The stretch of SR-36 outside of the Top Shop convenience store in Lake Point has a lot of traffic — and it’s moving fast, according to manager Kristina Frederickson.
In fact, even the parking lot for the gas station and convenience store sees high speeds from motorists coming off the highway or trying to speed out into gaps in traffic near the exit for Interstate 80, Frederickson said.
“This road is dangerous,” she said.
In 2015, there were 60 accidents on SR-36 between Sunset Road and the on and off ramps for I-80, including three that involved serious injury, according to the Utah Department of Transportation. It was an increase of 11 accidents on the same stretch of road from 2014, which also saw three accidents with serious injuries.
According to UDOT, the average annual daily traffic between the exit ramps and Saddleback Boulevard was 26,645 in 2013. Traffic has risen annually along that road segment, with the average annual daily traffic increasing from 25,840 in 2011 to 26,070 in 2012.
The rise in traffic has corresponded with an increase in accidents with serious injury, according to UDOT statistics. In the past two years, there was a combined six accidents with serious injury but no fatalities in the region; in the previous three years there was only a single accident that involved serious injury.
The last fatal accident on SR-36 between I-80 and Sunset Road was in November 2012, when two Salt Lake City women were killed in a three-vehicle accident near the Chevron station in Lake Point.
According to the Utah Highway Patrol, Sloane Ackman, 49, and her daughter, Trista, 29, were heading northbound on SR-36 when they braked suddenly. The white Chevrolet pickup truck behind them hit their car in the right rear corner, pushing it into oncoming traffic in the southbound lane.
The Ackmans’ car was hit head-on by a southbound SUV, killing both of the women on impact, according to UHP. They were not wearing seatbelts; the driver of the SUV received minor injuries in the crash.
Following the fatal accident, UDOT installed four speed feedback signs in the Lake Point area in 2013 that show motorists how fast they’re driving to improve safety along that stretch of highway.
Frederickson said she hasn’t observed much of a difference since the speed feedback signs were put in.
“It’s not really a slow area,” she said.
Despite the issues she’s observed with high-speed drivers in Lake Point, Frederickson said she isn’t sure if there’s a solution to the problem. Tressa Moody, manager at the Lake Point McDonald’s, said they see the occasional accident in the area of the restaurant but isn’t positive what the cause of the accidents is or how the problem could be alleviated.
UDOT spokesman John Gleason said the agency focuses on the total number of accidents that occur in an area instead of the severity of the accidents when determining where a safety study should take place. Gleason said there aren’t any plans for a study in Lake Point at this time, but UDOT is continuously working with Tooele County to implement new safety measures. The last traffic study in the area occurred in 2012.
Gleason also said traffic on SR-36 is the highest during the morning commute and many of the accidents that occur in Lake Point are rear-end collisions. If drivers avoid distractions and regulate their speed, many of those accidents could be avoided, he said.
When asked if UDOT was concerned with the number of accidents in the area, Gleason said the agency’s goal is to have no crashes or fatalities on Utah’s roads.
“Any one crash is one crash too many,” he said.