Utah lawmaker seeks to make seat belt violations a primary offense

A Utah lawmaker is trying to <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/politics/article_a7d58fbe-9ddd-11e4-89a4-231f68824e9e.html” target=”_blank”>change a seat belt law</a>, hoping to help reduce the number of deaths and injuries in his state.

Representative Lee Perry (R) seeks to make a seat belt violation a primary offense in Utah. According to current state laws, it is illegal to not wear a seat belt; however, police cannot pull someone over only on those grounds.

A seat belt citation can only be given by police if an officer has already pulled someone over for a separate offense. Many people, knowing that they cannot be stopped for flouting the seat belt law if they are otherwise law-abiding, choose therefore not to wear them.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are about <a href=”http://www.foryourjustice.com/blog/three-common-types-of-car-accidents.html” target=”_blank”>5.5 million car accidents each year in the United States</a>. These result in over three million injuries and another 40,000 deaths, many of them because motorists were not wearing seat belts.

One Utah resident, Melissa Brown, supports Rep. Perry’s bill. Her daughter, 16-year-old Mandi, was killed in a rollover accident in 2013. She was not wearing a seat belt.

“She was beautiful,” Brown said. “I mean, she was fun. I just cried. It was like, ‘that was not my daughter.’ She was so swollen, she was so bruised. She was cut.”

As a Highway Patrol lieutenant, Rep. Perry responded to that accident himself, which is part of his inspiration for the bill and for his persistence in getting it passed. This is not the first time that Rep. Perry has sought to bring the bill to fruition.

“What this would do is it would cause people to go, ‘do I want the possibility of being stopped by law enforcement and getting a ticket,” Perry said. “And it would cause people to wear seat belts.”

Rep. Perry believes that <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/news/state/article_0e8e0ce2-445d-512e-90e7-e92aa5e07cef.html” target=”_blank”>about 35 lives might be saved per year if the bill passes</a>.

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