PRICE, Utah – The most recent survey of seat belt use in Utah reveals a drop in the number of people who buckle up across the state as well as a significant decrease in seat belt use in Carbon County.
The survey has been conducted since 1986 to determine the percentage of people using seat belts in the state’s six most urban counties as well as 11 rural counties.
Statewide, the seat belt usage rate dropped 2% in 2021 to 88.2% from 90.2% in 2019. Due to the pandemic, the survey did not was not conducted in 2020.
“This is the first decrease in seat belt use since the implementation of the Primary Seat Belt Act in May 2015,” the report from the Department of Traffic Safety Office said. Utah Public Safety.
The 2021 study was conducted June 7-19 and again August 24-25. During this period, more than 31,000 people were observed as drivers or passengers.
The report states that seatbelt usage varies by state, with “urban counties as a whole having a 3.8% higher rate of seatbelt usage than counties rural”.
Of the counties surveyed, Carbon County saw the largest decrease in seat belt use – down nearly 23% from 2019.
The 2019 survey showed Carbon County with nearly 95% of drivers and passengers attached. In 2021, the survey estimated the county’s seat belt usage rate at 72%.
“We think some of that might be down to our rural roots where we live and the fact that we have a lot of backcountry roads that are less traveled and maybe people think they’re okay not to put their seat belts on,” Carbon said. County Sheriff Jeff Wood. “But we want to remind them that accidents happen on these roads and we’ve had fatalities on these roads.”
Wood said other reasons for the decline in seatbelt use could be drivers used to fewer cars on the road during the pandemic and also an increase in tourist traffic.
“We have a lot of traffic around here, so it’s a big push for us,” Wood said of county law enforcement increasing patrols and seat belt education.
In addition to issuing citations and warnings, Wood said the county is also using social media to remind residents to buckle up.
“I’m going to predict – the good people in Carbon County are amazing – it will make a difference,” Wood said. “We will see this trend pick up again.”
In the 2021 survey, Carbon County also had the largest decrease of any county in men wearing seat belts. Carbon County had 65% male curly compared to the state average for males of 86%.
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“We kind of wonder if it’s not the young men – the 16 to 25 year olds – so those are the people we’re targeting,” Wood said. “So we take every opportunity to meet these people, talk to them and remind them to get into the good habit of putting on their seatbelts.”
With mountain highways and higher speeds, a Utah Highway Patrol Region 9 sergeant who patrols Carbon County said seat belts are more important than ever.
“Our shoulders are stiff and they’re not very big and at high speeds and without restraint sometimes it ends tragically,” said Sgt. Chris Pugliese.
Pugliese said it was disappointing that the survey indicated that seat belt use had decreased and that highway patrol was also increasing law enforcement and education in Carbon County.
“You don’t want to be one of those people in an accident who’s going to regret for the rest of your life that you didn’t ask your friend to buckle up,” he said.
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