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A Death Knell

Posted - Mar. 1, 2004 at 10:09 a.m.



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The death knell for a potentially life-saving primary seat belt law sounded the other day in a legislative committee.

It’s unfortunate!

If lawmakers honestly had the well being of their constituents in mind, especially those in rural Utah, they’d be the ones promoting a primary seat belt law.

While seat belt use in urban areas is remarkably high – about 85%, in rural Utah it is dismally low – about 57%.

Is it too harsh to say lawmakers may one day regret what they’ve done?

Before the year is out, dozens of Utahns will lose their lives in traffic accidents because they aren’t buckled up.

Back in 1967 former state representative Alan Behunin joined a majority in rejecting the state’s first effort to make seat belt use mandatory. In the intervening years, he estimates ten thousand motorists have lost their lives in traffic accidents. More than half, he says, would have survived had they been wearing seat belts.

35-years later, he’s feeling some remorse for his no vote, and he suspects current lawmakers might feel the same a few decades down the road for their current reluctance to adopt this life-saving legislation.

For their sake, and absent a primary law, the least those opposing lawmakers should do now is become aggressively involved in promoting seat belt use.

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