SALT LAKE CITY — As we get closer to Thanksgiving, and the expected increase in traffic, the Utah Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies are looking for people not wearing their seat belts.
Seat belts save lives.
That’s the message the UHP is sharing with drivers as part of the annual “Click it or ticket” campaign that started this week.
The goal is to keep everyone safe on the roads and get Thanksgiving travelers to their destinations and back safely.
There are reasons the UHP is concerned.
“This year already, in the state of Utah, we’ve had 252 deaths as of yesterday statewide,” UHP Deputy Commissioner Colonel Michael Rapich said Tuesday. “Over the last 4 years, we’ve seen probably on average about 40% of our crashes that resulted in someone losing their life involved someone not wearing a seat belt. That’s over 40%.”
Troopers will be working more than 775 additional shifts, looking specifically for people who aren’t buckling up.
“I know for sure we would not be alive today if we didn’t put seat belts on,” said Jillian White, who survived a head-on collision.
She and Ty Bolton shared their near-death experience on I-15 in December of 2018.
“We were fortunate to put a dash cam in our vehicle literally the night before,” Bolton said.
The camera showed a vehicle approaching straight at the couple and they swerved to avoid a wrong-way driver.
“We just clipped a front corner,” Bolton said. “But that caused us to roll our vehicle three times.”
White hurt her hand. Their dog survived the impact thanks to camping gear they had packed in the car.
They’re both glad they always buckle up as soon as they get in a car.
“You can’t control other people's behaviors, you can only control yourself,” White said. “That night we had no idea of a wrong-way driver going northbound in a southbound lane on a freeway.”
Colonel Rapich wants everyone to make it a habit to buckle up.
“The last opportunity I’m going to take is to put a seat belt on,” he said. “It doesn’t take that long and not that uncomfortable or a disruption. It could be the only thing that saves your life.”
In Utah, not wearing a seat belt is a primary offense and carries a $45 fine.
The real cost of not wearing one though could be death or serious injury.