DRAPER, Utah – Fatal crashes are up in Utah despite fewer cars on the road, and one man who survived an auto vs. motorcycle crash is asking drivers to put away all distractions.
You can talk to anybody who rides a motorcycle and chances are they have told you a ‘close call’ story.
It can happen anywhere no matter how many times we drive on a familiar road.
“It was July 4 in 2013,” said Chris Longacre.
The Fourth of July will always remind him of the day he thought his freedom to live normally was gone forever.
“My foot was essentially severed from my lower leg about halfway down the foot,” he said. “It was pretty much cut off.”
Longacre was on his motorcycle near Sugar House Park that day when the driver of another car turned and smashed into him.
“For whatever reason, he didn’t see me,” said Longacre.
However, he survived. Now, nearly eight years later, he has adjusted to his prosthetic leg with life about as normal as before.
“I have been able to support my family, have a job, take care of my kids, be the husband I want to be, so life is great,” said Longacre.
He said he is fortunate. Especially after hearing how fatal crashes in Utah are increasing.
“With less traffic, we would’ve expected to see less fatalities, but the opposite has happened,” said Carlos Braceras, UDOT executive director.
Earlier this week, UDOT announced a new campaign asking drivers to be more aware and less distracted.
In 2020, fatal crashes were up 11% compared to 2019, even though there was 13% less traffic on the roads.
So far, in 2021, fatal crashes are up again.
Most of those crashes are from distracted driving, aggressive driving, drowsy driving or driving under the influence of alcohol.
“We’re calling on all Utahns to stop justifying bad behavior,” said Braceras. “Start by making just one small change to save lives.”
The Longacres said their experience has changed how they drive. They now vow to put their phones away while driving.
“I know we’re all human. We make mistakes,” said Erin Longacre, Chris’ wife. “Now I think about ‘How are you going to get to your place safely and have everyone else around you be safe?’”
They hope others do the same to avoid crashes like his.
“The message is, for me, to other drivers is try to avoid ever having to go through this,” said Chris Longacre. “Try to avoid ever having to go through this.”