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Ravell Call, Deseret News
Officials investigate the scene of an auto-pedestrian accident near 5000 West and 5400 South in Kearns, Tuesday, March 12, 2013.

KEARNS — A 15-year-old boy was hospitalized in extremely critical condition Tuesday after being hit by a car while walking to school.

The accident happened about 7:15 a.m. on 5400 South near 5000 West when four teens were crossing the street near Kearns High School. The boys were not in a crosswalk, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal.

The boys were more than halfway across the street when an oncoming vehicle stopped to allow the boys to finish crossing. That caused other cars behind the vehicle to hit their brakes and swerve out of the way, Hoyal said. One of the other cars swerved right into one of the teens.

The boy was taken to a local hospital in extremely critical condition.

The accident comes less than 24 hours after the Utah Office of Highway Safety issued  a report that found fatal auto-pedestrian crashes in Utah recently reached its second highest level in the past 10 years.

Thirty-two people were killed and 770 injured in auto-pedestrian accidents in Utah in 2011, according to the report. That matches the second highest total in the past 10 years. Thirty-four pedestrians were hit and killed by motor vehicles during 2008.

But while the number of traffic accidents involving injuries have gone down over the past decade, the rate of auto-pedestrian accidents has steadily increased, according to the report — including the percentage of fatal accidents.

The Wasatch Front saw the biggest increase of fatal auto-pedestrian accidents from 2010 to 2011, jumping from 19 to 24, according to Michael Mower, with the Highway Safety Office. In 2010, the highest percentage of auto-pedestrian victims were in the 15- to 19-year-old age group, followed by the 10- to 14-year-old age group. In fact, an estimated 56 percent of all pedestrians involved in an auto-pedestrian accident in 2011 in Utah were 25 years old or younger, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

The group that accounted for the most fatal accidents, however, was the 50- to 54-year-old age group, followed by the 10- to 14-year-old age group and the 20- to 24-year-old age group, according to the report.

The biggest contributing factors of auto-pedestrian accidents, according to the report, were pedestrians improperly crossing the road — such as not using a crosswalk — and darting out into traffic.

In 2011, the highest number of pedestrians killed was during the 6 p.m. hour, with Saturday being the most deadly day, the report states.

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The 25- to 29-year-old age group accounted for the highest percentage of drivers who were involved in fatal auto-pedestrian accidents in 2011. The majority of auto-pedestrian crashes occurred where the speed limit was 20 to 45 mph. In more than half of the auto-pedestrian accidents in 2011, the driver was under 40 years old, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

Other contributing factors in fatal auto-pedestrian crashes in 2011 in Utah included distracted driving and drivers failing to yield to pedestrians crossing the street. One-third of those accidents happened when a driver was making a left or right turn and didn't yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk, Mower said.

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