County has lowest buckle-up rate in state
Feb 14, 2017 | 5284 views | 0 0 comments | 200 200 recommendations | email to a friend | print
by Scott Boyle

Do you have one of those new smart cars that annoyingly beep when the seat belt of the driver is not engaged? 

A word to the wise, you ought to start wearing that seatbelt, not to stop the irritating beep, but for your own safety, and maybe for your wallet’s peace of mind, too.

Statistics show that in Utah there is a traffic accident every 10 minutes.  A large majority of those happen in urban areas, but plenty of crashes happen in rural areas as well. 

About half the people who have died on Utah roads were not buckled up.  In addition, three-fourths of those who are ejected from the vehicle during an accident die from their injuries. 

San Juan County statistics match the statewide stats.  In 2014, there were ten fatalities on San Juan County roads, with five of those fatalities occurring when occupants were not buckled up. 

County residents don’t seem to be too concerned about all that.  San Juan County had the worst seatbelt compliance percentage in the state in 2015, according to a survey sponsored by the Utah Safety Council. 

The study in 2015 showed that only 61.2 percent of front seat drivers and passengers were wearing seatbelts. 

The county improved a little in 2016 to 64 percent compliance and improved to second worst in the state behind Uintah County, if second worst can be considered improvement. 

Females in San Juan County do a little better in compliance, 67.1 percent compared to males’ 61.4 percent, but not impressively better.  And when you compare SJC data to the state average of compliance, 64 percent to 87.9 percent, San Juan County still has plenty of work to do. 

Toward that end, the local law enforcement agencies are putting emphasis on seat belt compliance this year.  The main focus is with the Utah Highway Patrol. 

UHP Sergeant Sanford Randall said recently, “It is basically a directive of the UHP, this emphasis on seat belt enforcement.”  

Indeed, the Zero Fatalities goal of the Utah Safety Council and UHP show the concern about seat belt compliance and safety for all Utah drivers and passengers.  “Buckle up, every time, everywhere, everyone,” they opine.

As part of this emphasis, money has been made available to troopers to work extra five-hour shifts focusing directly on seat belt enforcement. 

Randall indicates that this program will start sometime this month. 

“Each of my troopers,” Randall continues, “has goals to be accomplished.  Everyone has a seat belt emphasis this year and expected to do it” to complete those goals.

Utah law requires officers to issue warnings on a first offense. On the second offense, an offender can be fined $45, but that can be waived if he or she completes a 30-minute safety course online. 

“Compliance happens much quicker,” noted Randall, “when tickets are issued.”

Monticello City Police are putting much of their focus on teaching new teenage drivers the importance of seat belt use as part of safe driving. 

Monticello City Police Chief Clayton Black said, “We are focusing on young drivers.”  The Police Department attends each new Drivers Ed class and teaches the importance of seat belt use while educating the young students with stats about teen crashes and the use of seat belts. 

“We remind them of accidents that have happened in Monticello to their peers over the years when unsafe driving and seat belt non-compliance led to serious accidents and injuries,” continued Black. 

San Juan County Sheriff, Rick Eldredge stated, “Law enforcement in general is working to increase seat belt compliance in the county.”

Hear that beep?  It’s reminding you to be safer.  Better to be safe than sorry, someone once said, so buckle up!.
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