'Historically bad' Thanksgiving travel: 600 crashes, 4 people killed, 10 troopers hit

kutv kyle harvey thanksgiving weekend bad roads uhp 120219 (2).PNG
'Historically bad' Thanksgiving travel: 600 crashes, 4 people killed, 10 troopers hit (Photo: KUTV)

Exasperated Utah Highway Patrol officials on Monday pleaded with the state's drivers to try harder to avoid a repeat of Thanksgiving weekend in the future.

Troopers responded to nearly 600 crashes on Utah highways in which four people were killed.

Ten patrol cars were hit. No officers were seriously hurt, but a few of the cars were totaled.

Calling the entire week "historically bad," Captain Jeff Nigbur said driver behavior was the biggest problem.

Drivers should slow down, move over for emergency vehicles and maintain their vehicles, he said.

"There were completely bald tires with no tread and they're out driving in the middle of a blizzard," Nigbur said. "That makes no sense to me."

Two plows were also hit over the weekend as they cleared roads.

Troopers, usually calm and collected in radio conversations, were panicked.

"I unfortunately had the opportunity to hear one of my troopers, who was stationed 7200 South northbound on the flyover that was very icy, scream for help," Nigbur said.

That trooper is OK, but his patrol car was hit twice in a matter of moments.

"That absolutely scared me to death as a supervisor," Nibgur said.

New Reflectors

Utah Department of Transportation Operations Director Rob Wight said the state will be making investments in new reflectors which he says will improve safety on the Interstate 15 corridor.

"It's an advanced technology that we're looking at," he said. "It's something that has a lot of promise and we're encouraged by."

The reflectors would be placed in grooves carved into the road and are expected to reflect better during wet weather.

"We have some going on the project on southbound I-15 that goes between 90th South and 33rd South," Wight said. "We're going to put those in on that particular project."

Wight said the reflectors won't be ready until the next winter.

One positive development over Thanksgiving: UHP reports DUI arrests were down from 2018.