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Drivers, passengers urged to use seat belts

By Celeste Rosenlof | Posted - May 23, 2011 at 4:00 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Road safety is at the front of many people's minds Monday as both the "Click It or Ticket" and "See Me Save Me" campaigns started this morning.

Utah's law enforcement communities participated in the commencement of the national Click it or ticket campaign at Redwood Memorial Cemetery. As part of the kick-off, Ryan Moses, a crash survivor spoke about his experience and all that he lost as a result of he and those he cared about not wearing seat belts.

The campaign was started in 1993 in North Carolina, and in 2007 became an annual national effort to enforce seat belt laws. Each Memorial Day holiday weekend, law enforcement takes part in May Mobilization, which, according to the NHTSA is an "enforcement blitz that delivers our message Click It or Ticket."

Seat belt use stats

Use reached 85 percent in 2010, up one percent from 2009.

In states with primary seat belt laws use reached 88 percent in 2010.

Use on expressways is 89 percent, but only 81 percent on surface streets. Use in slow traffic is 78 percent.

Occupants in pickup trucks are less likely to wear a seat belt than those in passenger cars, although those in vans and SUVs are most likely to wear them.

Information courtesy of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

"If we can enforce seat belt laws, then we can save lives," said Utah Highway Patrolman Col. Danny Fuhr. "There's a direct correlation with people being unrestrained and death, and buckling up and staying alive. That's what we're doing. We keep people alive so they can go home every single night and enjoy their families."

In recent research, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that seatbelts reduce the risk of injury or death by about 70 percent. In Utah, unbuckled motorists were 32 times more likely to die than buckled motorists in 2009.

Although primary enforcement in Utah is limited to individuals under 19, secondary enforcement can take place when detained for another offence. Further, the driver is responsible for all unrestrained occupants under 16, but those who are older can be cited individually up to $45 each. May 23 through June 5, as part of the campaign, 100 law enforcement agencies across the state will be focusing on seat belt patrols.

Meanwhile, the second annual See Me Save Me motorcycle-safety campaign kicked off at Hill Air Force Base.

The campaign "aims to motivate vehicle operators to put away the distractions, focus on driving and look specifically for motorcycles."

To raise awareness about motorcyclists sharing the road with vehicles, Hill AFB stage a ride through local communities. Last year, the ride included 300 riders, and although the weather kept some off their bikes numbers still improved with 350 riders showing up to remind drivers that as weather improves, motorcyclists will frequent roadways.

"People go through the winter time and they really don't see bikes for a while," Ken Rue, an event organizer said. "So a big show-of-force lets people know there are motorcycles [on the road] and we want to get the word out there."

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Celeste Rosenlof

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