Seat belt bill is now part of Utah’s legislature for a trial period of three years

<p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Drivers (and passengers) in Utah are facing some harsher penalties for failing to wear a seat belt in a moving vehicle, after Gov. Gary Herbert signed a new bill into the state’s legislature on Monday, March 23rd,</span> <a style=”text-decoration: none;” href=”http://utahpulse.com/index.php/features/business/1978-gov-herbert-signs-primary-seat-belt-pilot-program”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>regulating seat belt violations for a three-year trial period.</span></a></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>House Bill 79, also known as the Safety Belt Law Amendments (or simply HB79), primarily focuses on how police officers are able to hand out citations for seat belt violations: in the past, not wearing a seat belt was considered a secondary offense, meaning that a citation could only be given out if a police officer had another reason for pulling over a driver (such as speeding, or passing through a red light).</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Under the new legislation, failure to wear a seat belt has become a primary offense, and law enforcement officials are able to pull over a driver if they see that the driver or passenger (only if over 19 years of age) is not wearing a seat belt, according to</span> <span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>St. George News.</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>For the first offense, a warning will be given; for the second offense, a $45 citation will be handed out — although the</span> <a style=”text-decoration: none;” href=”http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2015/03/24/mgk-stricter-seat-belt-law-signed-by-governor/#.VSPnkvnF-vh”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>fine can be dismissed with enrollment in a 30-minute traffic safety class</span></a> <span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>approved by the Utah Department of Safety.</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Similar seat belt regulations have</span> <a style=”text-decoration: none;” href=”http://www.sltrib.com/home/2324630-155/utah-governor-signs-legislation-to-bring”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>failed to pass through Utah’s legislature</span></a> <span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>because “many lawmakers argued that [the proposed regulations] infringed too much on personal choice.”</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>But now, as many politicians, law enforcement officials, and state residents have realized, <a href=”http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/politics/article_242dd030-c8f9-11e4-a252-47431bcab9c6.html” target=”_blank”>wearing a seat belt is less of a personal choice and more a safety concern</a>. According to recent studies, approximately</span> <a style=”text-decoration: none;” href=”http://4mrticket.com/three-ways-make-traffic-ticket-even-worse/”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>53% of drivers and 44% of passengers suffering fatal injuries in car crashes were not wearing seat belts</span></a> <span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>at the time of crash — proving the argument made by Utah Rep. Lee Perry, who is also a Utah Highway Patrol lieutenant, that failure to wear a seat belt increases the risk of fatal injuries for both drivers and passengers.</span></p><p style=”line-height: 1.38; margin-top: 0pt; margin-bottom: 11pt;” dir=”ltr”><span style=”font-size: 12px; font-family: Verdana; color: #000000; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;”>Currently, lawmakers have agreed that once the trial period ends on June 31, 2018, the bill will no longer be valid, and seat belt offenses will only be issued against drivers and passengers over the age of 19, and only as a secondary offense.</span></p>

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