Traffic safety officials warn not wearing a seat belt leads to more deaths than driving while intoxicated or fatigued drivers. That was underscored by the deaths of 7-year-old Daniel Lopez and 8-year-old Jennifer Lopez, who weren't wearing seat belts when they were thrown from their vehicle and killed in a traffic accident in Provo Canyon on May 18.
At least 13 people have died in automobile accidents across Utah within a two-week period that ended Sunday. This comes as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a study on fatal accidents, the time of day they occur and the use of seat belts.
In Utah, the NHTSA said, there were 203 deaths in 2006. Of these, 108 were wearing seat belts while 95 were not.
The Utah Highway Safety office is analyzing data for 2006. Research analyst Gary Mower said there were 57,729 crashes throughout the state in 2006. One third of those resulted in injuries. Fatal accidents accounted for just 1 percent of the injury accidents.
A Utah Safety Belt Observational Study released in July 2007 found that out of 56,000 drivers and front-seat passengers, 88.6 percent were wearing their seat belts during 2006.
Nationwide, the NHTSA reports that nearly 30,000 people ages 16 and older died in automobile accidents in 2006. Of those, 55 percent were not wearing seat belts.
Utah is currently promoting "Click It or Ticket," a national advertising campaign advising people to buckle up or risk paying a $45 fine.