Utah is experiencing a seat belt gap . . . and closing it would save lives.
Safety restraint use along the populous Wasatch Front is remarkably high – 85 percent. Yet, an observational survey conducted in December by the Utah Highway Safety Office in ten rural counties shows that only 58 percent of rural motorists wear their seat belts. That’s a 27 percent difference!
Whatever the reasons, and there are many, one irrefutable fact remains: seat belts save lives, on rural roads as well as busy urban highways.
The majority of crash-related fatalities in Utah are unbelted motorists. In the year 2000, for example, it is estimated 142 lives in Utah could have been saved had the victims been using safety belts.
Overall, Utah has made good progress on this issue since first passing a mandatory seat belt law in 1986. Subsequent legislation, a series of effective media campaigns and a variety of educational programs have helped increase the use of safety restraints.
One more thing would help. Lawmakers should make not wearing a seat belt a primary offense for adults. Currently it’s only a secondary offense. KSL believes strengthening Utah’s life-saving seat belt law would send an important message and help close the rural-urban seat belt gap.