r Second in a series on safe driving
Not wearing a seat belt is one of five “deadline behaviors” drivers can exhibit, according to Utah safety experts.
In a crash, unbuckled passengers can become a projectile and increase the risk of hurting or killing others in the vehicle by 40 percent, according to Don’tDriveStupid.com, a website designed to appeal to young drivers.
“Last year, 280 lives were lost in car crashes in Utah,” said Kylie Christiansen, a spokesperson with Zero Fatalities, in a summertime presentation made at Maple Mountain High School. To parents, she added, “You need to be the driver you want your teen to be.”
Not wearing seatbelts is one of five deadly behaviors related to driving. The others are drowsy, distracted, aggressive and impaired driving, each of which will be discussed in upcoming issues of Serve Daily.
Tyler Stuart of Brigham City, 16 in 2013, was a typical teenage boy, his grieving parents say in a video posted to Don’tDriveStupid.com.
“Tyler had been taught to always wear his seat belt,” his mom said. “He thought he was indestructible. He wasn’t.”
Wearing a seatbelt helps a driver to stay in his/her seat, and to maintain control of the vehicle. Three out of four people who are ejected during a car crash die from their injuries.
“The most common contributing factor to roadway fatalities was a failure to buckle up,” according to the Don’tDriveStupid website. “The best thing you can do to keep from becoming a statistic on Utah’s fatality chart is to wear a seat belt.”
Utah County, which has about 260,000 residents, totaled more “fatalities involving unrestrained” than any other county in the state in 2014, including Salt Lake County, which has more than 1 million residents.
Stated another way, in 2016 there were 86 unrestrained fatalities on Utah roads. Excluding pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists and bus occupants, over the last five years, 45 percent of the people who died on Utah’s roads weren’t buckled.
This includes non-drivers. Unbuckled passengers can become a projectile and increase the risk of hurting or killing others in the vehicle by 40 percent, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. A gripping video on the website using mannequins shows how this happens.
The odds of dying when seated unbuckled in a crash are one out of two, according to ZeroFatalities.com, parent of the Don’tDriveStupid website. Deaths in Utah car crashes are down 62 percent since the Zero Fatalities emphasis started in 1992, Christiansen said.
Utah law says every person in a moving vehicle must have their seatbelts properly buckled. Law enforcement officers can and do stop vehicles when they see unbuckled occupants in the front or back seats. Tickets are $45, and drivers are responsible to pay tickets for each of their unbuckled passengers aged 16 or younger.
“Parents, enforce the laws,” Christiansen said at Maple Mountain High. “Drive with your teen. Be a good example.”