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Rural seatbelt safety survey shows Carbon reaching for 70 percent

The map shows Carbon County's seatbelt survey results as observed and compared to other counties.

Sun Advocate community editor

In an effort to protect both young and old, Utah law requires that all children under age 8 ride in an appropriate car or booster seat and that all adults buckle up.

To drive these statutes home, the state has launched continued advertising and information campaigns to insure public knowledge of the law. Locally, the campaigns have been a success as a 2008 department of public safety survey found that the majority, 67.5 percent, of Carbon residents were both following the law and protecting those in their care.

The Rural Safety Belt Observational Survey was conducted in 10 counties with populations above 12,000, including:

•Box Elder.



•San Juan.

•San Pete.





•and Wasatch.

The survey reported that urban drivers buckle up more often at 86 percent, compared to the 63.8 percent of rural drivers who do the same. However, Carbon did well in the study reaching almost 70 percent compliance.

According to the Utah Department of Public Safety's website, occupant protection has been identified by Utah's traffic safety leaders as one of the top priority areas for statewide outreach campaigns and local program activities, with the majority of program funding being provided by the Utah Highway Safety Office. Each year, the office funds various programs and supports several campaigns that promote the proper and consistent use of safety restraints. Programs include education, enforcement, equipment and evaluation components and are primarily conducted by partnering agencies.

Utah law provides for primary enforcement for individuals up to 19 years of age, which means an officer can stop the vehicle if he or she observes an unrestrained occupant under the age of 19. Those children under 8 must be restrained in a proper safety seat and those 8-18 must be restrained properly in a seat belt.

"For a person 19 or older, enforcement by an officer can be only as a secondary action when the person has been detained for another offense, such as speeding," states the Zero Fatalities Utah public safety site. "The law applies to all seating positions equipped with seat belts."

The site demonstrates frequently asked question from around the state about seat belts such as, "When can my child safely use regular seatbelts?"

The answer, is typically 8 years of age, however, if the child is abnormally small, the safety site recommends using a booster until the child reaches 4'9" tall.

"Safety experts highly advise all parents to keep their children in boosters seats until they are 4'9" as seatbelts are designed for the average sized adult," explains the state's webpage.

Seat belts function best when properly used, with the lap belt worn two to four inches below the waist, against the hips and upper thighs, never to be worn over the ribs and stomach. The shoulder belt never should be worn under the arm or behind the back. It should be worn snugly across the chest with the belt lying against the collarbone. When driving, sit up straight at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel for added air bag protection in the event of a crash.

"One faces a risk of serious injury or death by not using the seat belt properly," explained the site.

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