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Strengthen Seat Belt Laws

Posted - Jan. 31, 2003 at 12:59 p.m.



This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Utah’s life-saving seat belt laws need to be strengthened, not weakened!

It is an irrefutable fact: hundreds of lives, millions of dollars and immeasurable grief have been saved since 1986 when Utah lawmakers wisely passed a law requiring all front seat passengers and the driver to use safety belts in motor vehicles.

In 1986, seat belt use languished at about 18%. Today, more than 80% of Utahns buckle up.

For those who don’t, the chances of dying or sustaining critical injury in a crash go up dramatically. In the year 2000, for example, it is estimated 142 lives in Utah would have been saved had the victims been using safety belts. It cost about $7 million that same year to handle the hospital needs of unbelted crash victims. Of those charges, $6 million could have been saved if unbelted Utahns had been belted. *

Now, a few misguided lawmakers want to repeal the law based on their ideological views of what constitutes liberty.

In reality, society would be better served by enhancing existing laws. Foremost, lawmakers should make not wearing a seat belt a primary offense for adults. Currently it’s only a secondary offense.

Considering what it costs society emotionally and monetarily to deal with the tragic consequences of those who fail to buckle up, it would be folly for lawmakers to do anything less than strengthen Utah’s seat belt laws.

*Intermountain Injury Control Research Center, 2000 CRASH Data

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