New seat belt law now in effect draws mixed reaction from Utah motorists

Posted at 6:19 PM, May 12, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-13 09:26:50-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah Highway Patrol troopers showed they weren’t afraid to stop motorists for breaking a new primary seat belt law, which went into effect Tuesday.

One car after another was stopped all because the driver wasn't buckled up. Before May 12 motorists could be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt if they were being pulled over for other violations. The new law makes not buckling up a primary offense.

On Tuesday, some drivers learned about the new law the hard way by getting pulled over. Despite getting stopped, some motorists say the law will help save lives.

"I think the seat belt law is great. I think it promotes safety and unfortunately I wasn't wearing mine, so kind of stupidity on my part. I think seat belts save lives," said Travis Armitstead of Pleasant Grove.

But some think otherwise.

"I think it's just big government trying to be a nanny," said Steven Palmer.

Palmer argues the law won't change his driving habits.

"Not that I'm going to change the way I drive or whether I'm going to wear my seat belt on a certain day for a certain time," Palmer said.

But law enforcement says they know first-hand wearing a seat belt does make a difference.

According to Utah Department of Transportation more than half a million Utahns are still not buckling up and many hope this law changes that.

The first time someone is stopped for violated the new law, they get a warning. The second time, motorists could face a $45 fine, which can be waived by taking a 30-minute online safety course.