Utah is in the top 15 largest states in the US but is the 10th least dense with 80% of its population living along the Wasatch Front. The rest of the state is both rugged and rough and driving outside of this populated zone can be dangerous if you are not prepared. Urban driving in this region can still present its’ own challenges.
3 Region State
Utah is a western state with only latitude and longitude as borders, one of just a couple states with such boundaries. With three distinct regions in the state it offers drivers a number of different challenges, from the Rocky Mountains to the Great Basin to the Colorado Plateau there is a variety of ecological variants to deal with.
With the high and rugged Rocky Mountain ranges in the north west, the Great Basin. Immediately to the east of the mountains through the middle of the state and the Colorado Plateau occupying the south eastern portion of the state, your driving conditions can rapidly change as you drive from one area to the next.
The Rocky Mountain ranges are the highest in North America and present amazing challenges to drivers especially in the winter, when high mountain passes or roads can become snow covered in the matter of hours as winter storms develop faster in these higher elevations. Whenever considering a trip to the mountains, always be prepared for the season whether spring floods, winters snow or simply the elevation and temperature differences even in summer be sure to pack an emergency bag for these seasons.
The Great Basin where the majority of the population of the state lives along the Wasatch Range of mountains just to the east and mountains and lakes to the west develop a natural and imposing boundary which provides challenging winters for drivers. With an area no wider at any point than 18 miles, but stretching 120 miles north to south because of the natural borders provide different driving challenges. The first is the number of highways available in the region with only the I-15 as the major highway that runs the full north-south length along with US Highway 89.
The Colorado Plateau is essentially a high desert interspersed with dense forests. This area is home to many canyons and the Four Corners Monuments. The area is a high plains desert with deep canyons and is best recognized for the red rock formations throughout. A very sparsely populated area with deserted mining towns and ghost towns and places like Hall’s Crossing that had a population of 6 at the last census drivers need to be aware for where they are going and have essential supplies in case of a break down.
Taking Care on Rural Highways
56% of American auto fatalities take place on rural roads and highways. The US Highway 6 between Spanish Fork and Price, Utah is considered one of the deadliest in the US. Its winding nature through canyons with its mixed use between commercial, heavy industry, passenger cars and recreational vehicles make it a risky venture. It is not the only rural road through winding and dangerous areas in Utah. With so much natural beauty, canyons, mountains and forests Utah rural roads can be dangerous.
Be sure to map out your route on State or US Highways or the four Interstates in the state, I15, 70, 80, or 84 for the safest routes. Lesser roads are only maintained infrequently and may not be in the best shape.
No Fault with Easy Step-out Threshold
If you are driving and involved in an accident in Utah, remember that the state is first and foremost a no fault state, where generally you will be claiming your own insurance for minor injuries. If your medical expenses are over $3000 or you are seriously injured including permanent disability or disfigurement you would have the right to step outside the no fault rules and take the suspected at fault party to court for damages.
In the state, the 50 bar rule for modified comparative fault is used which allows multiple parties to claim awards as long as each fault is assigned as 49% or less. If you are assigned 50% or more by a court of law, you will receive zero compensation. These tend to spill over into insurance settlements as well.
DUI and DWI
To ensure that no impaired driver goes unpunished in the state, Utah officers can charge drivers with both DUI and DWI to ensure coverage of alcohol and non-alcohol impairments. Driving while under the influence is reserved for driver’s that are clearly impaired but chemically test under the limit of 0.08%. Whereas DWI is for drivers that are driving while impaired over the limit and is an alcohol related charge.
The state also has separate criminal and administrative penalties with a Per Se charge system for any DUI or DWI. This Per Se charge effects an immediate license suspension upon receiving a charge for either offense and ensuring you appear before a hearing within 29 days. If you do not request a hearing, the suspension goes into effect.
High Point Values, Similar Results
The traffic violation tracking system in Utah is much like most states in the same aspect that if you accumulate too many points in a certain time frame you will be required to attend a driver’s education course and could lose your license. However the point values in Utah are values like 80 points for reckless driving and 200 points for a license suspension within a two year period whereas most states have a 12 points in a 1-2 year period in these types of demerit point systems. The end result is the same.
Did You Know That…
1. Utah has the 3rd most National Parks with 5, seven National Monuments and 43 State Parks.
2. More than 2/3rds of Utah land is federally owned.
3. You can get a Learner Permit at 15 years old, and drive unrestricted at 17 years old.
4. It has the largest open pit mine in the world at 2.5 miles wide and almost a mile deep.
5. DWI is a charge for driving while intoxicated over the limit of 0.08%.
6. Women were given the vote in Utah in 1870, 50 years before it was made a Constitutional Amendment.
7. With an implied consent law, your license will be suspended if you refuse to take a chemical test in Utah.
8. Besides Hollywood, the most western movies were filmed in Utah, making it the face of the Wild West in motion pictures.
9. A no fault insurance state with a low threshold of just $3,000 in medical expenses to be able to step outside and litigate. However, most accidents are still minor and fall under no fault claims.
10. Utah is the only US state to have a majority populations belonging to one Church and is the most homogenous religious state in the US.