ST. GEORGE – During the month of May, St. George Police officers, working a special seat belt shift, conducted a total of 433 traffic stops, resulting in 417 people receiving written warnings and three people being issued a seat belt citation.
“Safety restraints for adults and children have proven to prevent injuries in minor collisions and have saved lives in more significant impacts. They are designed to, and do, save lives,” the St. George Police Department said in a press statement issued Wednesday evening.
In addition to officers watching for seat belt violations during their regular patrol shifts, the Police Department amped up their patrol on these types of violations. During the month of May, the St. George Police Department received funding for focused patrols, emphasizing seat belt usage.
Twenty officers worked 30, five-hour shifts, specifically focusing on safety restraint education and enforcement, the department said. These shifts were outside of officers’ regularly scheduled shifts.
The Police Department said:
A total of 433 traffic stops were made by officers working the seat belt shifts during the month. Out of those 433 contacts, 417 written warnings and 3 citations were issued. The citations were the result of the drivers having been previously warned for the same violation. Additionally, 48 warnings and 32 citations were issued for other moving and non-moving violations.
Officers also encountered drivers and vehicle occupants who had outstanding warrants for their arrest. Fifteen arrest warrants were discovered and served during the seat belt shifts. One driver was found to be impaired and was arrested for DUI and failing to meet his sex offender registration requirements.
Annually, there are news stories from across the country reporting fatal collisions involving unrestrained vehicle occupants that could, or should, have survived the impacts had they been restrained, the statement said.
“Please buckle up and ensure that your passengers are properly restrained,” the Police Department said. “It only takes seconds but can make all the difference when needed.”
Buckle up: In Utah it’s the law
A new seat belt law went into effect in May, making failure to wear a seat belt a primary offense, meaning police can now pull over drivers who aren’t wearing a seat belt.
Utah Legislature’s 2015 Safety Belt Law Amendments brought via House Bill 79 first substitute, passed the House 41-32 with 2 not voting, passed the Senate 17-11 with 1 not voting, and was signed by Gov. Gary Herbert in March (see ed. note for Southern Utah legislators’ voting). Prior to the new law, police could cite adult drivers who didn’t wear seat belts only if they had been pulled over for another violation.
The bill allows officers to issue warnings on a first offense. On the second offense, an offender will likely receive a citation and a fine of $45.
Ed. note: From Southern Utah, Reps. Brad Last, John Westwood, V. Lowry Snow, Don Ipson, and Merrill Nelson voted for the legislation, while Reps. Jon Stanard and Michael Noel voted against it. Sens. Ralph Okerlund and Steve Urquhart voted for the legislation, while David Hinkins and Evan Vickers voted against it.
- Buckle up! New seat belt law now in effect
- Utah gets tougher seat belt law with governor’s signature
- Gas tax hike, distracted driving, criminal justice reform; what passed, what didn’t in 2015 Legislature
- Deceased woman identified in no-seat belt fatality on I-15
- Perspectives: Seat belt laws and slippery slopes
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