WEST JORDAN, Utah — An alarming number of Utahns are failing to buckle up while traveling in the state. The Utah Highway Patrol says the number hit a five-year high in 2021.
On Monday, troopers rewarded drivers for using the life-saving habit.
“Thank you so much for wearing your seat belt. Here’s a free drink for you,” Trooper Dave Brooks said to a driver.
Troopers gifted 150 coupons for a free FIIZ soda on the West Jordan campus of Salt Lake Community College.
“They’re pretty happy. They’re usually surprised, like, 'What’s going on? Oh, I get a free drink, yay!'”
The push before the Thanksgiving holiday comes on the heels of a survey that found more drivers and passengers fail to buckle up now than in the last five years.
“We don’t want to see that trend continue of going backwards. We want to see that trend go the other way, where we see more people wear their seat belts than less,” said Sgt. Cameron Roden.
While 12 percent of drivers and passengers fail to wear seat belts, they make up for nearly half of all fatalities.
“It’s a staggering number when you start to look at it that way,” said Sgt. Roden.
UHP hopes a small reward for buckling up will drive the point home. However, troopers and local police will be ticketing those who don’t over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Across the state, law enforcement will be working overtime focusing on seat belt enforcement.
Last Thanksgiving weekend, around 2,500 people were cited or given a warning for failing to buckle up in Utah.