Take it slower, Utah!

It's an admonition that cannot be stated too strongly after last weekend's life in the fast lane that killed a dozen Utahns in seven deadly accidents across the state.The message takes on increased importance with the Memorial Day weekend, which traditionally serves as the start of the summer driving season, looming just ahead.

Only 11 months ago, it was a happier story. Then, highway safety officials were heartened by the fact that Utah was on its way to a record lowest June fatality total - despite the recent raising of the Interstate speed limit by 10 mph to 65 mph.

With that glowing report, however, also came a warning: As drivers lost their initial caution with the new speed limit, accidents would likely increase.

None of this past weekend's fatalities occurred on the Interstate system and therefore aren't attributable to the newer higher speed limit. But this latest rash of fatal accidents does suggest that the high level of caution that marked Utah driving habits last June has slipped a bit.

More traffic law enforcement - as will be the case over Memorial Day - may be part of the solution. But only part.

Motorists can do a lot themselves - more than the highway patrol or another other law enforcement agency - to increase their chances of not becoming a statistic; simply remembering to buckle up.

As is so often the case, several of last weekend's tragic deaths might have been avoided had drivers and passengers had been wearing their seat belts - as Utah law requires.

The bottom line is that it's really up to Utah drivers to choose to make their highways among the safest in the nation. And that's not really a choice at all.