Utah’s New Seatbelt Law In Full Force

It has only been two months, but thousands of Utah motorists are learning that Utah's tougher seatbelt law is being taken seriously. More than 6,000 drivers have been caught not wearing seatbelts since the law went into action on May 12.

According to the Utah Highway Patrol, about 900 of those 6,000 have received full citations. Full citation tickets are written to those who have already received a first-time warning.

The new law features a $45 fine for those who have already received their first warning. A fine that can be waived if a driver completes a 30-minute online safety course.

So what is behind the 57 percent increase in traffic stops due to lack of seatbelt use? Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Todd Royce says, "more stops means more troopers are educating the public." Royce explains that the agency has seen too many fatalities that could have been prevented with the use of a seatbelt.

"Over fifty percent of fatal crashes involve the driver or one of the passengers not wearing seatbelts," Royce stated.

The seatbelt law has received mixed public reception amongst locals. One man expressed his frustration saying "I think people should be able to make their own decisions."  Another woman gave the law her support saying, "I agree with it totally."

John Gleason, a public information officer for the Utah Department of Transportation defended the law, "we've lost 132 people on Utah roads already this year. It is the number one thing you can do to protect yourself fin a crash."

Recent surveys indicated that around eighty-three percent of Utah drivers wear their seatbelt on a consistent basis. With the diligence that law enforcement has been pursuing the new seatbelt law, look for that number to go up over the next few years, regardless of how one feels about it.

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