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Last Modified: March 1, 2023

Utah’s Plan for a Primary Seat-belt Law

Published on February 4, 2015 • Last updated March 1, 2023 by Ken Christensen
Topics: Announcements, Car Accidents

Cover of the book: 7 Biggest Mistakes

fasten seat belt sign

Click-it or Ticket. You’ve seen the billboards and heard the phrase many times. It may have caused you to stop and think for a moment. Am I wearing my seat belt? Do I ALWAYS wear my seat belt?

What Are the Facts?

The rule is simple: Wearing a seat belt while you are in a moving car on the highway is the law.

But, that is not enough to keep people safe. Even though Utah law makes it unlawful to drive or be a passenger in a vehicle while unbuckled, that doesn’t mean everyone buckles up. That puts those drivers and passengers in more danger of death or injury if they are in a crash. In fact, the Utah Department of Transportation shows that nearly half of people who died in traffic accidents last year were not wearing a seat belt.

Utah’s Roads Right Now

Last year 256 people died in traffic accidents. That number is larger than previous years, and we are on our way to an even larger number of deaths this year.

Utah drivers who do not buckle up have mentioned various reasons:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Desire to rebel
  • Seat-belts are uncomfortable or restrictive

The truth is that not buckling up is illegal. Even though you cannot currently be pulled over for that reason alone, it is an issue of responsibility to yourself and to other drivers. People who do not wear their seat belts are not the only ones who have to deal with the consequences when they are involved in an accidents. The results of those crashes are often very severe and sometimes deadly.

How Does it Work?

Right now, the rules are slightly different for drivers and passengers of different ages. Here is what you should know.

  • The seat-belt law is in place. That means buckling up is required for everyone
  • Not wearing a seat belt is a ‘primary offense’ for drivers and passengers under the age of 19
  • For drivers and passengers who are 19 years or older, not wearing a seat belt is a ‘secondary offense’

What is the difference between a primary and secondary offense? A law enforcement officer can only pull you over for a primary offense. That means an officer cannot pull you over simply for not buckling up if you are 19 or older. They would need a different reason to stop you, like speeding, which is a ‘primary offense.’ If they pull you over for another reason, they can then cite you for not buckling up.

What Are the Changes?

A bill, known as HB79, has been proposed to Utah lawmakers that would make not wearing a seat-belt a primary offense for drivers and passengers of all ages. If it passes, Utah would join 36 other states that have enacted similar laws. It would mean that an officer could pull you over and give you a ticket specifically for not wearing a seat belt.

The purpose of this change is to encourage the 20% of Utah residents who don’t wear seat belts to buckle up. It could save 30 to 40 lives per year, as well as a large amount of money for the families of those individuals.

This bill is about stopping a trend of unsafe practices and irresponsibility. Now that you know the law, it is up to you to follow it. Your responsibility doesn’t end when you hear the click of your own seat belt. Make sure that everyone who is travelling with you is buckled safely as well.

Contact Your Representative

If you feel strongly about this issue, as we do, make your voice heard. Speak with your local leaders about this issue and give your opinion. If you aren’t sure who to talk to, click HERE to find out.

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