SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Highway Patrol continues to urge Utah's motorists — and their passengers — to buckle up.

Seven people have died in nine crashes in the past two weeks that could have been routine if not for the lack of seat belt use, according to UHP spokesman Dwayne Baird. Five of the crashes are being investigated as incidences of driving under the influence.

Troopers reported that six of the seven fatalities involved people who were not wearing seat belts.

"Of those six fatalities, seat belt usage would have potentially prevented the motorists' deaths," Baird said.

Starting Friday, the UHP will beef up its presence on the state's highways "to focus specifically on impaired drivers." They will work late night and early morning shifts to patrol for drunk drivers, Baird said.

Troopers will also focus on seat belt and speed enforcement.

"We ask everyone to do their part," Baird said. "Don't drive impaired or drowsy. Obey speed limits and slow down in bad weather. But above all else, wear a seat belt and make sure everyone in your car or truck is properly restrained."