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AM News Brief: Returning Events, Bad Drivers & A Flight Disruption

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Garrett via Creative Commons
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Traffic fatalities in Utah increased last year, even though the number of cars on the road declined. This story and more in the Tuesday morning news brief.

Tuesday morning, March 16, 2021

State

Unsafe Driving Went Up in 2020

Traffic fatalities in Utah increased last year, even though the number of cars on the road declined. Because of that, Utah’s Department of Transportation is launching a new campaign aimed at improving drivers’ behaviors. UDOT’s Carlos Braceras said research shows Utahns believe they care more about safety than other drivers on the road do, but that’s a Catch-22. “It can lead them to do unsafe things, to basically telling themselves that one small lie, that it will be OK for me to do this because I'm safer than anyone else on the roadways,” Braceras said. The campaign will focus on reducing distracted, aggressive and impaired driving. The number of citations given to people in Utah for driving over 100 miles-per-hour increased by 45% in 2020 compared to the previous two years. — Ross Terrell

Creating Better Access To Vaccine Sign-Up For People With Disabilities

Utahns with disabilities are facing accessibility issues when trying to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Challenges include signing up for appointments online, finding transportation to vaccine clinics and filling out medical forms. Davis County Health Department's website, for example, is difficult for people with vision issues to use. A spokesperson said they're working on improving it. Read the full story. — Sonja Hutson

Northern Utah

Maverick Center To Host NCAA Gymnastics

The NCAA Gymnastics Regional has been relocated from the Jon M. Huntsman Center at the University of Utah for COVID-19 safety concerns. A spokesperson for the University said in a statement Monday the Maverick Center in West Valley City better meets spectator guidelines for championship events. It will be one of four sites around the country for regionals starting April 1. Maverik Center will allow adequate space for proper social distancing measures on the competition floor for all team members and working staff, according to the statement. Teams competing in the opening round will be determined by a drawing next Monday. — Bob Nelson

Living Traditions, Utah Arts Festival To Return

Two major community festivals return to downtown Salt Lake City with in-person and virtual events this spring and summer. After being cancelled last year due to the pandemic, the annual Living Traditions Festival's 35th anniversary will become a series of smaller events in May with a food event in June. The annual Utah Arts Festival, normally held in late June, has been scheduled for the last week of August. Event organizers say by then there “would likely be more safety and certainty.” — Bob Nelson

Region/Nation

Flight Disruption Leads To Arrest

A Colorado man accused of disrupting a flight from Seattle to Denver last week faces a federal charge of interfering with a flight crew for allegedly refusing to wear a mask and urinating in the cabin. The FBI arrested 24-year-old Landon Grier after the flight landed and said Grier swatted at an attendant when she asked him repeatedly to put on his mask. The charge carries up to twenty years in prison and a two-hundred-fifty-thousand dollar fine. — Matt Moret, Colorado Public Radio

Songbirds Face Outbreak

A salmonella outbreak is killing birds in parts of the Mountain West, and continues to spread. Songbirds, like those in the finch family, stayed farther north this year because of a mild winter. Biologists said that may have caused them to congregate more at feeders, spreading the disease. Signs of infection include birds puffing up and acting unusually lethargic or multiple dead birds. People should report sightings to local fish and game authorities. — Madelyn Beck, Mountain West News Bureau