I hope that at least one person either slowed down or put their seat belt on —UHP trooper Stephen Matthews

SALT LAKE CITY — A massive crackdown on I-80 nationwide seems to have paid off.

For eight days, Utah Highway Patrol troopers were among law enforcement officials in 10 states who took part in “More Cops, More Stops.”

The program is an effort to combat what are called the fatal five reasons for deadly accidents: speed, no seat belt, DUI, distracted driving and drowsy driving. Those are responsible for about 70 percent of crashes and deaths on Utah roads.

Officers pulled people over specifically to talk to them about safe driving during the last week of July.

UHP trooper Stephen Matthews was part of Utah’s role in the crackdown.

"I hope that at least one person either slowed down or put their seat belt on," Matthews said.

He came up with the idea to meet with drivers at the Echo rest stop near the Wyoming border to talk to them about safety.

"There were over 2,000 people that came in to the rest area during the three days I was there, and I made about 600 contacts with people, so I talked to about 600 people during those three days,” Matthews said.

His efforts, along with all of the other troopers who worked overtime, worked. In all, they put in 1,950 hours of overtime, wrote 772 tickets to drivers and issued 789 warnings. They also arrested 17 drivers for DUI.

But most important, in that one week, there were no deaths.

Matthews said that was the best part of the entire operation because he's had to make those awful calls to families before.

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"As a trooper, it's the worst thing you can do,” he said.

With so many troopers visible, most drivers obeyed the laws, leading to fewer crashes.

"I wish we could do that every day,” Matthews said.

Email: acabrero@deseretnews.com