The blitz is on: Buckle up, no excuses accepted

Officers from Utah and Wyoming highway patrols pose to show joint participation in the Border to Border Operation that begins Monday. The B2B operation will enforce seat belt laws across the Intermountain West states, including Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Arizona, with the goal of reaching zero fatalities during the upcoming weeks of high travel. Utah-Wyoming border, circa May 2018 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

ST. GEORGE —  Drivers and passengers alike be advised: A multistate blitz kicks off Monday enforcing click-it-or-ticket laws aiming to send a zero tolerance message to the public: Driving or riding unbuckled will result in a ticket, no matter what state you are in.

Border to Border Operation logo for the joint law enforcement campaign that begins Monday. | Image courtesy of UHP, St. George News

The high-visibility operation is called Border to Border, or B2B, conducted by Utah Highway Patrol and other agencies in Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming and Arizona. The operation echoes a national seat belt awareness campaign that kicks off Monday and runs through June 3, concurrent with one of the busiest travel and holiday weekends of the year.

During the two-week operation, UHP advises in a news release, participating law enforcement agencies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt enforcement, writing citations day and night.

“This effort demonstrates six states joining together in one concentrated effort to save lives by increasing seat belt use,” UHP Colonel Michael Rapich said, according to the news release. “We are proud to join our neighboring states in a unified effort to increase traffic safety and reduce fatal crashes by sending a zero tolerance message about riding unbuckled across the Intermountain West.”

Officers from Utah and Arizona law enforcement agencies pose to show joint participation in the Border to Border Operation that begins Monday. Utah-Arizona border, circa May 2018 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

The B2B operation first rolled out in 2017. According to the UHP news release, nearly 6,000 seat belt and car seat violations were issued by participating agencies, along with more than 14,600 citations for other types of traffic infractions.

“This, in turn, reminded drivers to drive safer,” the statement reads.

And for good reason: Over the last five years nearly half of all individuals killed on Utah’s roadways were not buckled at the time of the crash, and 75 percent of those ejected during a crash die from their injuries, according to data from Zero Fatalities Utah.

Infograph showing that three out of four people who are ejected during a crash die from their injuries, retrieved May 19, 2018 | Image courtesy of Zero Fatalities Utah, St. George News

The statistics are worse for children; studies show that when a driver is unbuckled, more than 75 percent of their children are unbuckled as well.

On the other hand, safety increases significantly when parents are properly restrained in the car, as 87 percent of their children will also be restrained.

Nationally, the statistics are similar, with 48 percent of those killed in crashes in 2016 unrestrained. Things got worse between the hours of 6 p.m. to 5 a.m., when more then 55 percent of the vehicle occupants who were unrestrained died as a result of the crash.

Infograph showing that seat belt use is the number one traffic safety device for preventing death and injury in a crash, retrieved May 19, 2018 | Image courtesy of Zero Fatalities Utah, St. George News

That’s why one focus of this year’s B2B and click-it-or-ticket campaign is nighttime enforcement, the UHP release states.

Utah’s Department of Public Safety has a long history of being proactive when it comes to reducing the death toll on the state’s roadways, which can be seen when comparing the number of people killed in automobile crashes in 1972 compared to those in 2017.

In 1972, Utah’s population was just above 1.13 million, and 382 people were killed on the state’s roadways during that year – about three times the fatalities reported 45 years later. If the crash fatalities to population ratio remained the same, then in 2017, when the state’s population was about 3.1 million, more than 680 individuals would have lost their lives in traffic-related crashes. Instead there were 246 such fatalities, according to a 2017 Fatal Crash Summary report by the Department of Public Safety.

Officers from Utah and Nevada law enforcement agencies pose to show joint participation in the Border to Border Operation that begins Monday. Utah-Nevada border, circa May 2018 | Photo courtesy of Utah Highway Patrol, St. George News

The department has implemented ongoing programs that run throughout the year to enhance traffic safety, UHP Sgt. Larry Mower said.

“Our colonel is very proactive when it comes to traffic safety, and we are involved in proactive enforcement,” he said, “and hopefully we are saving lives in the process.”

During the 100 deadliest days period, Memorial Day to Labor Day, fatal crashes nearly double in comparison to the rest of the year, averagin nearly one death per day, according to Zero Fatalities Utah. There are weekly enforcement programs during this time, Mower said, targeting unsafe driving behaviors that contribute to deadly crashes, beahviors such as aggressive and distracted driving, drunk driving and not using seat belts.

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  • justsaying May 20, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Meanwhile 5 of those states have optional helmet laws for motorcyclists. How does that make any sense? They’re not looking for seat belt violations, there looking for a reason to pull you over to be able to search your car.

  • NickDanger May 20, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    Nanny-state nonsense.

    • Chris May 20, 2018 at 2:44 pm

      Yes, just like laws prohibiting drugs, gambling, prostitution and usury–all designed to protect us from ourselves. What do you think about those?

      • NickDanger May 20, 2018 at 5:30 pm

        I’m against any law that limits people’s behavior if that behavior is not hurting anyone besides the person engaged in it. I.E., a person on crystal meth is dangerous, a person smoking a joint is not. Gambling, prostitution – these are not real problems for anyone besides the person involved in the transaction. As for usury, well, there is plenty of legal usury happening right here in St. George and everywhere else across the country in the form of payday loans, title loans, that sort of thing.

        The hypocrisy inherent in legislating morality is the main reason police officers are hated rather than respected.

    • RadRabbit May 21, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      I think if you wear a belt or not should be your own choice as an adult like the helmet law for motorcycles (I personally wear a belt) but if you get in an accident and need medical assistance you better be able to pay your own bill.

  • SSTEED May 20, 2018 at 1:30 pm

    While you guys are out protecting and serving the banks and insurance companies; who protects us from the pirates who rob us because we don’t do what they say? – But we rob you to save lives. B.S. Its to make money and its called fraud. FTP

  • Billy Madison May 20, 2018 at 1:40 pm

    Guess I better buckle up for the next couple of weeks.

  • utahdiablo May 21, 2018 at 11:05 am

    Yeah, How nice….here’s a idea, how about a Permanent Blitz as to keeping these stupid drivers off their cell phones while swerving on our highways?

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