Utah troopers focus on seat belt enforcement to save lives this summer

May 20, 2018, 10:59 PM | Updated: May 22, 2018, 10:23 am

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The 100 deadliest days on Utah roads begins Memorial Day weekend.  This year the Utah Highway Patrol and law enforcement agencies across the West are joining forces to give drivers “extra encouragement” to stay safe.

Starting Monday, troopers will be watching specifically to see if drivers are wearing a seat belt.  If they’re not, they’re going to get a ticket, along with everyone in the car.  The best way to avoid a fine is also simple, just buckle up.

“I can’t even tell, on one of the vehicles, what it is,” said Mark Florence as he looks at a photo of a crash he was in.  “It’s so mangled.  It brings back a lot of emotions.”

Mark Florence points to a photo of his car after an accident. He credits seat belts for his family’s survival.

Last summer, Florence, along with his wife and two children, were headed up Provo Canyon when they were hit by a car spinning out of control.

“I saw it crash through the median, or through that cable barrier, and hit head on into us,” said Florence.

The entire family was wearing their seat belts.

“We know that seat belts save lives,” said Sgt. Nathan Croft with the Utah Highway Patrol. “We know that in 2016, 48% of the people who were involved in fatal crashes were not wearing seat belts.”

The highway patrol says the statistics are high. In 2017, 87 people who were killed in crashes were not buckled up.

UHP hopes this year is different.  Utah is teaming up with troopers in Nevada, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona. The message: driving or riding unbuckled will get you a ticket, no matter what state.

“We can pull someone over for not wearing their seat belt,” said Sgt. Croft. “That’s the only reason we need.”

It’s a message that the Florence family hopes people really listen to.

“The Monday after the accident I had to go back to the salvage yard to pick up some things out of our vehicle and I actually started crying in our car because I realized we actually survived this,” said Florence. “It was just a testament to me of wearing your seat belts.”

UHP says the minimum fine for not wearing a seat belt is $45 and everyone in the car over age 16 and not buckled up, get their own ticket.

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Utah troopers focus on seat belt enforcement to save lives this summer