National campaign emphasizes seat belt use, Utah law enforcement aim to cite offenders
Ravell Call, Deseret News
SANDY — Local law enforcement launched a new program called "Saved By The Belt," to recognize Utahns whose lives have been saved because they wore their seat belt.
West Jordan Police Chief Doug Diamond on Monday helped to kick off Utah's 13th year of participating in the national campaign against driving without a seat belt. The program, which emphasizes the use of seat belts during any length of time spent in a vehicle, began Monday and goes through Memorial Day weekend.
"Seat belts save lives. There's no doubt about it," Diamond said. "It's not a trick, it's not a special effect or, it's not, in this day and age, computer generated graphics. It's hard, cold fact."
Shannon Furrow and Mahala Britt, of Fillmore, were likely saved by seat belt use when their vehicle rolled on Interstate 70 in Elsinore, Sevier County, last August. The two were hospitalized with injuries, but survived the single-vehicle crash.
"I think it was really important that we wore (our seat belts) because we could have died," Furrow, 17, said. "We should've been dead."
Britt, 18, added that wearing a seat belt isn't conditional for her anymore.
"Now I always wear it, even in town," Britt said. "Even if I'm just going down the street to a friends house, I'm like, 'oh I've got to wear my seat belt.' It's a big thing for me now."
Utah Highway Patrol Cpl. Todd Johnson said the goal of the program is to get motorists and passengers to buckle their seat belts every time they get in a car.
"It takes one or two seconds to buckle a seat belt," Johnson said. "Every time you get in, before you start the vehicle up, reach up, pull that seat belt across, click it in and you're good to go."
During the campaign, troopers will be extra vigilant in giving citations to anyone not wearing a seat belt when they are pulled over for another moving violation. The Department of Public Transportation will also be working on educating people on the use of seat belts, hoping to get more people to comply with the law.
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