A crackdown on speeders and other traffic violators on U.S. 89 through Davis County will begin in July, with increased patrols by deputies and highway patrol officers.
Capt. K.D. Simpson of the Davis County Sheriff's Office patrol division said the crackdown - which he called "an intensive traffic enforcement program" - is being made at the request of the Fruit Heights City Council.The highway, known locally as the Mountain Road because of its location skirting the foothills of the Wasatch Front, has been the object of intense interest in the last six months.
Traffic on the highway has gotten heavier as development has turned orchards and pasture bordering the road into subdivisions. Accidents, including fatalities, have increased.
The Davis Council of Governments recently let a $100,000 contract to study the highway from where it splits off I-15 in Farmington to the mouth of Weber Canyon where it crosses I-84.
The Utah Department of Transportation is participating in the study, providing some of the funding. Suggestions for traffic control on the 55-mile-per-hour highway include installing stop signals, building overpasses, and building parallel frontage roads and limiting access points to a few designated interchanges.
"Over the past several years the traffic on 89 has increased to the point where it has become a dangerous highway to travel and especially to cross," said Simpson. "This is evidenced by the number of injury accidents and deaths on the highway."
UDOT figures show one fatality was logged on the stretch of 89 through Davis County in 1984, increasing to two fatals each year in 1985-87. Two fatalities have already occurred on the highway this year, only six months into the year, Simpson said.
Average daily traffic on the highway was 17,600 vehicles in 1984, according to UDOT, jumping to 18,500 last year.
Simpson said while there are some factors the deputy sheriffs can't control, such as weather, there are some others they they can. Such as singling out speeding drivers. Officers will also step up enforcement of drunken driving and seat belt laws, Simpson said.
"A traffic speed study conducted on the highway has shown that 15 percent of the drivers are driving at 63 miles per hour or above, and half the drivers checked were 59 (ph) or more," Simpson said.
The number of traffic accidents on the highway fluctuates, Simpson said, from 133 in 1984 to 200 in 1986, falling to 119 last year.
"The ultimate objective of this program is to reduce the amount of trauma and heartache each one of these accidents has caused and make a safer highway for all drivers that either live in or pass through Davis County," Simpson said.
Anticipating one reaction to writing more tickets, Simpson said the crackdown "has nothing to do with generating revenue" from fines.