Gov. Herbert Signs Primary Seat Belt Pilot Program

On Monday, March 23, 2015, Gov. Gary R. Herbert signed HB79 Safety Belt Law Amendments. The law sponsored by Rep. Lee Perry and Sen. Curt Bramble provides a common sense approach to reducing fatalities on Utah’s Roads.

“Employers understand that failing to buckle up harms others on Utah’s roads,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO, Salt Lake Chamber. “This three-year pilot program will provide a needed educational effort to ensure that we protect operators and passengers in vehicles.
“The business community has been supportive of this effort for a number of years and we look forward to continue to work with our Zero Fatalities partners. This initiative will prove to be an effective tool for saving lives and making Utah a safer place to do business.
“I want to also thank Rep. Perry, Sen. Bramble, the Utah Department of Transportation, Utah Highway Patrol, Safe Kids Utah, Utah Safety Council and our partners in the business community including the Utah Transportation Coalition, Primary Children’s Hospital, Intermountain Healthcare and Workers Compensation Fund for their leadership on this issue.”
About HB79 Safety Belt Law Amendments:
·     Over the past five years, 1,189 people died on Utah’s roads. Of all those people killed in car crashes (excluding motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians) about half of them (45%) were not wearing a seat belt.
·       In 2013, motor vehicle accident involving workers employed by WCF policyholders cost $16 million. For WCF policyholders, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of fatalities. 60% of WCF’s 2014 fatality claims were due to motor vehicle incidents.
·    HB79 establishes a three-year pilot program to make not wearing a primary offense, rather than secondary offense, for adults (over 19) only through July 2018. At that time, the secondary provision is restored. The law requires law enforcement to issue a warning on the 1st violation. 
·      A citation may only be issued if a person commits a second or subsequent violation.  A person that receives a citation may waive all of the $45 cost if they complete a 30 minute course provided by the Department of Public Safety.
·        The 2018 sunset provision in the bill will require Utah Department of Transportation, law enforcement and community partners to create and implement a seat belt program that: 
o   Increases seat belt use rates.
o   Tracks a reduction in seat belt-related (unbuckled) fatalities.
o   Demonstrates that law enforcement has taken reasonable steps to enforce seat belt requirements.