Common Auto Accident Causes in Utah

During 2012, on average, a car crash occurred every 10 minutes, a person received auto accident-related injuries every 23 minutes and death occurred in an auto accident every 36 hours. The Utah Department of Public Safety’s most recent crash summary report depicts statistics for 2017. These statistics reveal that the rate of auto accidents has increased to every 8.4 minutes, with injuries occurring every 20 minutes and a death every 32 hours. Accordingly, in 2017, 70.8% percent of auto accidents resulted only in property damage; 28.7% of the accidents resulted in injuries and property damage; 0.39% percent of accidents resulted in fatality/death, severe injury, and property damage. After analyzing their results, they were able to identify the top five accident causes for 2017.

The Top Five Accident Causes

Accident CauseAccidentsInjuriesFatalities
Speeding9815 (15.6%)4538 (17.5%)80 (27%)
Drunk Driving1825 (2.9%)1095 (4.2%)55 (20.1%)
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs1002 (1.6%)732 (2.8%)94 (34.4)
Distracted Driving5825 (9.3%)3085 (11.9%)23 (8.4%)
Drowsy Driving1251 (2%)No Info No info
Total Accidents 201762,85525,833273

*Data from this chart sourced from Utah Crash Facts 2017


Speeding can result in a severe accident. By exceeding the posted speed limit, the amount of time it takes for a vehicle to come to a stop surpasses the distance and time it takes for someone going the speed limit, or under to stop. In the case of traffic coming to an unexpected stop, a speeding vehicle has a shorter distance to reduce speed than drivers not exceeding the speed limit. 


Speed crashes are characterized by a driver who exceeds the posted speed limit or drives too fast despite road conditions. 9,815 speed-related crashes occurred in Utah during 2017, resulting in 4,358 injured persons and 80 fatalities. Overall, 27% of all fatality crashes involved speeding violations.  

Intoxicated Driving

The legal limit for blood alcohol content in Utah is 0.05 as of 2019. Intoxicated driving involves any driver who is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs that render the driver incapable of safely operating a vehicle. A first or second DUI offense results in a Class B Misdemeanor. However, this offense will be classified as a Class A misdemeanor if one of the following conditions are met: you have a passenger under 16 years old in the vehicle, bodily injury occurred, or if the driver is at least 21 years old with passengers under 18 years old at the time the accident occurred.

A DUI offense can become a 3rd-degree felony if, the offender inflicts serious bodily injury upon another due to negligent driving, the offender has two or more prior DUI convictions within the past 10 years, or if the offender was previously convicted of automobile homicide or a felony DUI.

Penalties for these offenses result in the following fines and prison time:

3rd-Degree Felony – Punishable by up to 5 years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000

Class A Misdemeanor – Punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500

Class B Misdemeanor – Punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000

Revoking or Suspension of License

If the offender is 21 years old or older at the time of the DUI offense, their license will be suspended for 120 days. Drivers, with DUI convictions from the last ten years, will have their license revoked for 2 years.

With an offender between the ages of 19-21 years old, their license will be suspended until the offender turns 21 or for a period of one year, whichever is longer. 

Drunk Driving Statistics

Drunk driving accidents encompass auto accidents involving drivers with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. However, in the state of Utah, the blood alcohol content limit was lowered on December 30, 2018, to 0.05%. In fact, as of 2019, Utah has the lowest blood alcohol content limit in the United States. During 2017, 1,825 crashes resulted from drunk drivers. Overall, 1,095 injuries and 55 deaths resulted.

Driving Under the Influence of Drugs Statistics

Driving under the influence of drugs involves drivers intoxicated by any substance other than alcohol. 1,002 crashes resulted from intoxicated drivers and, consequently, injured 732 people and killed 94. 1.6% of crashes in Utah involved an intoxicated driver, and these crashes resulted in 34% of auto-accident fatalities in Utah. 

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving consists of talking on the phone, eating, drinking, watching a video, reading, talking to people in the vehicle, and texting. In Utah, the top two distractions for driving are cell phones & talking to passengers.


Distracted driving includes internal distractions and external distractions. Internal distractions include eating, drinking, using a cell phone, changing the radio, and passengers. Comparatively, external distractions include anything outside of the vehicle. However, the highest percentage of distracted driver crashes resulted from drivers under the age of 21. In 2017, 5,825 distracted driving accidents occurred resulting in 3,085 injured passengers and 23 deaths. 9% of all crashes in Utah involved a distracted driver. Additionally, over half of distracted driving accidents are rear-end crashes.

Drowsy Driving

You’re more likely to fall asleep if you drive alone, drive long rural roads or drive after dark. Driving through hours upon which you normally sleep significantly increases drowsiness. If you suffer from insomnia, drink small amounts of alcohol, or work more than 60 hours a week, your driving will be affected. Taking sedatives, driving for 100 miles, or more than 2 hours without any rest breaks will also impact your attentiveness and focus while driving. 

Studies have found that staying awake for 18 hours or more is equal to driving intoxicated. Those who average 6 hours of sleep a night or less are 3 times more likely to crash. Drivers under the age of 25 make up 42 percent of drowsy driving crashes. 


Drowsy driving resulted in 1,251 crashes and equated 2% of the total vehicle crashes in Utah.

Other Accident Causes

Lane Swerving

Lane swerving refers to vehicles exceeding the lines of their lane. This can happen if traffic lines have faded or may occur if someone exceeds their lane boundaries due to distraction or poor driving skills. Lane boundaries may also be obscured by poor weather conditions.

Failure to Yield

 This driving violation includes not just failing to yield to someone on your right but also failing to stop for a red light or rushing through a yellow light. Failure to yield also includes going through a four-way stop out of turn. 

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive drivers include drivers who speed, run red lights and stop signs, fail to yield, tailgate, weave in and out of lanes, and don’t allow other vehicles to merge. Reckless driving includes excessive speeding, dangerous behaviors such as cutting other drivers off, tailgating, and ignoring rules of the road. 

Weather and Road Conditions

Weather conditions and road conditions that cause lower visibility or obstacles can increase the likelihood of auto accidents. Additionally, severe weather conditions can complicate the identification of the at-fault driver in an auto accident. 

Have you been in an auto accident? Call 801-683-1948 today to schedule a no-cost medical exam, free legal consultation, and free thirty-minute massage

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