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Jed Boal ReportingBuckle up or you're busted. That's the message this holiday season from law enforcement across the state. State and local police today declared zero tolerance for drivers and passengers not belted in, with extra emphasis on young drivers.
Seatbelts save lives. The statistics nationally and in Utah back it up, so police are getting tough in a two-week campaign. If you hear a siren and you're not belted in, prepare to pay the price.
Trooper Tyler Roberts says about one in five motorists he pulls over is not buckled up.
Trooper Tyler Roberts, Utah Highway Patrol: “After all the crashes and the stuff that people see all the time, that they don't wear their seatbelts, something that's as easy as two seconds to put it on…"
In 2002, 330 people died in Utah crashes. 135 of those killed, more than one-third, were not restrained. Unbelted drivers are 17 times more likely to die in crashes.
Susan Horning, Seatbelt User: “If it wasn't for our seatbelts and car seats, I don't know if we wouldn't be here today with you."
As police launched the campaign, Ryan and Susan Horning and their three young children shared their close call. June 23rd they missed a stop sign in Weber County. A pick-up broad sided their SUV; they slammed into a telephone pole and rolled. Six-year-old Tyler escaped with a cut ear; they all walked away.
Tyler Horning, Seatbelt User: “We rolled over five times into a cow field and the fence was rolled over."
Susan Horning, Seatbelt User: “It's hard enough to lose your child to illness or something you can't control, but I never wanted to say that it was my fault my children were killed because I didn't buckle them up."
Troopers say seatbelts make the difference in a crash.
Trooper Tyler Roberts, Utah Highway Patrol: “Somebody's been ejected through a windshield. You think in your mind, ‘It would have been so much easier to have that seatbelt on and you would have walked away."
The good news? Seatbelt use is rising in Utah; more than 85-percent wear seatbelts today, up nearly 18 percent from the year 2000.