Survey: Southern Utah drivers don’t buckle up as much as others

Stock image | Photo by Tomwang112, iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Seat-belt use in Washington County lags behind other urban Utah counties surveyed this year by the state Department of Public Safety.

About 83 percent of drivers and passengers buckled up when traveling in Washington, according to the study. Four of the other five urban counties surveyed – Cache, Davis, Salt Lake and Weber – were above 91 percent; Utah County was 89.9 percent.

Drivers and passengers in urban areas (91 percent) tend to use their seat belts more than those in rural areas (82.7 percent), the study found.

In Iron County, 76 percent buckled up.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires each state to study seat-belt use within a geographic area that accounts for at least 85 percent of the passenger vehicle crash-related fatalities. The survey is administered by the DPS Highway Safety Office and a report on its results was posted on the agency’s website this month.

Seventeen of Utah’s 29 counties were included in the survey: Box Elder, Cache, Carbon, Davis, Grand, Iron, Millard, Salt Lake, San Juan, Sanpete, Sevier, Summit, Tooele, Uintah, Utah, Washington and Weber.

“This study has been the cornerstone for developing, implementing and evaluating occupant-protection programs in the state,” the report said.

Overall, across the counties surveyed, 88.8 percent of drivers and passengers this year were wearing seat belts, an increase of nearly 1 percent over 2016. Washington County, likewise, showed an increase of almost 1 percent, while Iron County was up 2.2 percent.

Salt Lake County had the highest rate of seat-belt use at 92.4 percent. San Juan County had the lowest at 67.6 percent.

When the Office of Highway Safety conducted its first survey in 1986, seat-belt use was 18 percent.

The state made seat-belt use mandatory in May 2015.

In addition to differences between rural and urban counties, the survey found variances in seat-belt use for gender, vehicles and roads.

Overall, women (91.6 percent) generally buckle up more often than men (84.8 percent). Only in Millard and San Juan counties did men use seat belts at a higher rate than women.

In Washington County, 87.3 percent of women use seat belts compared to 79.3 percent of men. In Iron County, it’s 83.3 percent and 69.4 percent, respectively, the second-largest gender gap among the counties surveyed.

Van occupants had the highest rate of seat-belt use, while SUV and car occupants were just behind – but all were over 90 percent. People in trucks, however, buckle up 81.5 percent of the time. Statistics for vehicle type weren’t broken down by county.

More people used seat belts while traveling on highways (91 percent) compared to arterial roadways (87.6 percent) and local roads (84.1 percent). Statistics for roadway type weren’t broken down by county.

“The theoretical profile for the individual most likely to be wearing a seat belt in Utah in June 2017 would be a female passenger in a van on a primary road in Davis County,” the report noted. “The lowest seat-belt usage profile would be a male driving a truck on rural roads in San Juan County.”

The report also mentioned that several drivers of local and state government vehicles were observed not wearing their seat belt.

The survey was conducted June 5-17 at 10 sites in each county. Trained observers documented belt use and gender among the driver and front-seat passenger for a period of 45 minutes at each location. All passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight up to 10,000 pounds were included in the survey. A total of 31,724 vehicle occupants, including 24,526 drivers and 7,198 passengers, were observed.

Email: mrinker@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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11 Comments

  • JOSH DALTON November 28, 2017 at 8:27 am

    Name calling alert: This is because people Southern Utah are morons, that can’t drive to begin with. The reflects the lower IQ than the rest of the nation. I don’t understand how a town, riddled with entitled, opioid addicted people, allows these folks to be on the road. Its only getting worse. The road conditions suck, so do most of the people driving on them! I feel bad for anyone who has to drive on the east side of town. not to mention I take my life in my own hands every morning and evening. I have to travel through the intersection of Dixie Drive and Sunset. If I had any feedback all of you people who think you are great because you live in Ivins or Santa Clara…A RED LIGHT MEANS STOP! A posted speed limit of 40mph does not mean you drive 30mph. BTW, no one cares about your truck! So try and depress the throttle! GO FALCONS!!

  • Sapphire November 28, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    I wonder how we lived without seat belts when I was a kid… oh yeah, we drove slowly, weren’t DUI from booze, drugs, and cellphones, had driving manners, were intimidated by the idea of tickets and fines, and had cars that were built out of substantial metal instead of tinfoil and plastic. And no, I do not think seat belts are bad, just the majority of today’s self-centered drivers.

  • Billy Madison November 28, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    It’s too hard to buckle up when I gots a coffee in one hand and cell phone in the other.

    • PatriotLiberal November 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      I hope your also driving at 10+ the limit because you’re “late to church”.

      • PatriotLiberal November 28, 2017 at 4:57 pm

        Please change the first your to “you’re”. Thank you. 🙂

  • ladybugavenger November 28, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Coming from California where it’s the law and seat belt reminders everywhere and tickets being handed out like candy on Halloween, I was trained to wear seatbelts. When i moved to st George i noticed there is not the same buckle up for safety emphasis. So i can see how this is true

    • Sapphire November 29, 2017 at 9:14 am

      This is really true. When we travel, most states have Buckle Up It’s the Law signs everywhere. Utah needs to get on board.

      • PatriotLiberal November 29, 2017 at 1:26 pm

        Actually Utah has a buckle up law. Here it is Unfortunately about 70% of Utah’s population is made up of right wingers who hate it when that “big ole liberal commie gubmint” tells them what to do. Unless it works out in their favor of course.

        • PatriotLiberal November 29, 2017 at 1:31 pm

          I must have made a typo in the HTML I typed. Here is the correct one

        • ladybugavenger November 30, 2017 at 4:19 am

          Believe me, there is not the same emphasis and training for drivers to buckle up as other places.

          When it first came out to be a law, I didn’t want to do it! I didn’t want to be controlled. I was a teenager, didn’t know what liberal or Republican meant. But now, I can’t get in a car without buckling up. I’ve tried, but then i picture my head going through the windshield and I buckle up 🙂

          • ladybugavenger November 30, 2017 at 4:50 am

            I suppose I still don’t know what liberal or Republican mean. All I see, is two groups that hate each other, and the hate stops them from working together for the greater good. Self serving is all I see in government. But Trump is calling out and dividing the wheat from the weeds, the sheep from the goat, and he’s doing a fine job!

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