The first seatbelt enforcement blitz of the year will take place from May 24 to June 6 as part of the Utah Department of Public Safety's buckled or busted campaign.
In support of the campaign, Utah Highway Patrol troopers will saturate Carbon County roadways and cite motor vehicle travelers who are not wearing seatbelts during the selective enforcement period.
According to UHP Trooper Dave Brinkerhoff, special attention will be paid to younger drivers who are not wearing seatbelts, especially surrounding the heavily traveled Memorial Day holiday.
Drivers ages 16 to 24 years old represent the highest risk of all motor vehicle travelers, indicates the Utah Highway Safety Office.
Every minute, a crash involving a teenage driver occurs in Utah. Additionally, teenagers represent 7.9 percent of licensed drivers in Utah, yet the youth were involved in approximately one-fourth or 28.7 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in the state.
Approximately one out of five crashes in Utah involved a teenage driver.
"In 2002, Utah could have saved more than $6.6 million if all unbelted drivers and passengers were buckled up during motor vehicle crashes," pointed out Brinkerhoff. "Unfortunately, in the event of a motor vehicle fatality, the price of precious lives cannot be calculated.
Utah's seatbelt law requires all passengers and drivers to buckle up when traveling in a motor vehicle.
In addition, Utah's safety restraint law states that youngsters up to 5 years old must ride in a child safety seat. Under the state statute, youth ages 5 to 19 must ride in a child safety seat or be restrained by a seatbelt.
According to Brinkerhoff, law enforcement officers will be issuing citations statewide to people who do not adhere to the statutory guidelines.
"One of the main goals of the buckled or busted campaign is to increase Utah's seatbelt usage rate to 90 percent by 2005," commented the UHP trooper.
Since the buckle up law enforcement campaign was launched in 2001, the state safety office asserts that seatbelt usage has increased 17.8 percent to reach the current compliance rate of 85.2 percent.
"We are pleased to see that more Utahns are buckling up," state Brinkerhoff. "We hope these enforcement mobilizations will help encourage our part-time users and non-users to wear their seat belts regularly when traveling in a motor vehicle."
The next 2004 statewide seatbelt mobilization effort will take place during the Thanksgiving holiday from Nov. 22 to Nov. 27, concluded the local Utah Highway Patrol trooper.