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Health Indicator Report of Seat Belts: Safety Restraint Use

Motor vehicle crashes (MVCs) are one of the leading causes of injury death and hospitalization in Utah. '''Seat belts are the single most effective safety device''' for preventing serious injuries and reducing fatalities in MVCs, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In Utah, for 2016, an estimated 107 lives were saved because of restraint use and an estimated 40 additional lives would have been saved if everyone had been wearing seat belts. NHTSA has found that '''deaths and serious injuries''' caused by MVCs could be '''reduced by approximately 50 percent''' with proper and consistent use of safety belts. NHTSA also found that if all 50 states achieved 90 percent seat belt usage, it would result in an overall total cost savings of $5.5 billion.^1^ Unbuckled passengers can also become a projectile and increase the risk of hurting or killing others in the car by 40 percent.^2^ Ejection from the vehicle is one of the most injurious events that can happen to a person in a crash. In Utah, for 2016, unrestrained crash occupants were 240 times more likely to be ejected from a motor vehicle and 24 times more likely to be killed than restrained crash occupants.^3^ [[br]][[br]] ---- #NHTSA, [ Traffic Safety Facts] #[ Utah Zero Fatalities] #Utah Crash Summary 2016, Utah Department of Public Safety
Overall, 91.3% of females were belted compared to 86.8% of males.

Seat Belts: Use by County and Sex, 17 Utah Counties, 2017


In the 2017 report, Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, Washington, and Weber counties were all classified as 'urban'.

Data Sources

  • Utah Safety Belt Observational Survey, Utah Highway Safety Office
  • Intermountain Injury Control Research Center

Data Interpretation Issues

Based on national criteria, 17 counties were selected for the 2017 Utah Safety Belt Observational Survey, a practice that began in 2012 (Utah Safety Belt Observational Survey, August 2013 Report). Previously, only the 6 most populous counties were included. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued new Uniform Criteria for State Observational Surveys of Seat Belt Use. The final rule was published in the Federal Register Vol. 76 No. 63, April 1, 2011, Rules and Regulations, pp. 18042 - 18059. The Utah Plan was accepted as fully compliant with the Uniform Criteria and was used for the implementation of Utah's seat belt surveys beginning in 2012. The Utah Highway Safety Office stratified roadway segments by functional classification (Interstate/Primary, Arterial/Secondary, and Local). This allowed for stratification of road segments and to employ a systematic probability proportional to size (PPS) sample, to select the road segments to be used as observation sites. Utah is composed of 29 counties, 17 of which accounted for about 90.2% of the passenger vehicle crash-related fatalities during 2013 to 2015. Therefore, sample sites were drawn from all 17 counties for inclusion in the survey. A random, systematic sample of 10 road segments were selected PPS within each sampled county. This process resulted in the selection of 170 road segments (17 counties x 10 sites per county). According to federal guidelines, the reliability of the survey results should be within the 95 percent confidence interval. For the 2017 survey the standard error was determined to be 0.025. The data were analyzed and found to be well within a standard error of 2.5 percentage points as required by NHTSA guidelines.


Adult and Front Seat Passenger Safety Belt Use (observational study): Percentage of '''drivers and front seat passengers observed using safety restraints''' in Utah. The survey uses data collected by Utah Highway Patrol Officers at intersections, highway ramps, and parking lots. Seat Belt Use (BRFSS): Number of persons who reported wearing a seat belt always or nearly always Likelihood of Injury and Death: Severity of injury by seat belt use; ejection from vehicle Adolescent Seat Belt Use: Students who never or rarely never wore a seat belt


Adult/Front Seat Passenger Use (observational study): Number of drivers and front seat passengers observed using safety restraints. Seat Belt Use (BRFSS): Number of persons who reported wearing a seat belt always or nearly always Likelihood of Injury and Death *Severity of injury: Number of persons who survived crash *Ejection from vehicle: Number of persons ejected from vehicle who died[[br]] [[br]] Adolescent Seat Belt Use: Number of students who never or rarely never wore a seat belt


Adult/Front Seat Passenger: Number of persons observed Seat Belt Use (BRFSS/YRBS): Number of persons surveyed Likelihood of Injury/Death *Severity: Number of persons involved in crash *Ejection: Number of persons ejected from vehicle during crash

Healthy People Objective IVP-15:

Increase use of safety belts
U.S. Target: 92.0 percent
State Target: 92.4 percent

Other Objectives

'''Other Healthy People 2020 objectives:'''[[br]] IVP-16: Increase age-appropriate vehicle restraint system use in children[[br]] *16.1: Aged 0 to 12 months **U.S. Baseline: 86% of children aged 0 to 12 months were restrained in rear-facing child safety seats in 2008 **'''U.S. Target:''' 95% (10% improvement) **Utah Baseline: Ages 0-4: 93.1% child restraint usage (2008 Utah Safety Belt Observational Survey) **'''Utah Target:''' Ages 0-4: 98% child restraint usage (5% improvement - highest was in 2001 at 97.1%)[[br]] [[br]] *16.2: Aged 1 to 3 years **U.S. Baseline: 72% of children aged 1 to 3 years were restrained in front-facing child safety seats in 2008 **'''U.S. Target:''' 79% (10% improvement) **Utah Baseline: Ages 0-4: 93.1% child restraint usage (2008 Utah Safety Belt Observational Survey) **'''Utah Target:''' Ages 0-4: 98% child restraint usage (5% improvement - highest was in 2001 at 97.1%)[[br]] [[br]] *16.3: Aged 4 to 7 years **U.S. Baseline: 43% of children aged 4 to 7 years were restrained in booster seats in 2008 **'''U.S. Target:''' 47% (10% improvement) **Utah Baseline: Ages 5-8: 45.7% booster seat usage in motor vehicle crashes (2008 Utah Crash Summary Report) **'''Utah Target:''' Ages 5-8: 50.2% child restraint usage (10% improvement)

How Are We Doing?

In 2017, the observed seat belt usage was '''88.8%''' overall for the 17 counties included in the study. In 2017 the 'urban' counties of Cache, Davis, Salt Lake, Utah, Washington, and Weber were analyzed separately from the 'rural' counties. The seat belt usage rate for the urban counties was 91.0% and 82.7% for the rural counties. The 2016 Utah Crash Summary published by the Department of Public Safety reports percentages of children ages 0-8 using child safety seats. The child safety seat usage for 0-4 year-olds is 85.8%. Of concern is the drastically lower percentage (42.9%) of child safety seat usage among 5-8 year-olds, indicating children are moved to adult-sized seat belts prematurely. For 0-8 year-olds, the usage of child safety seats in 2016 was 68.4%, an increase in usage compared to the previous year (66.8% in 2015).

How Do We Compare With the U.S.?

In 2016, the Utah death rate per 100 million vehicle miles traveled was 0.91 which was lower than the 2015 U.S. rate of 1.12 (Utah Crash Summary 2016, Utah Department of Public Safety).

What Is Being Done?

The Violence and Injury Prevention Program (VIPP) provides funding to Utah's 13 local health departments to implement motor vehicle safety programs and Safe Kids coalitions/chapters activities. These programs focus on child passenger safety and teen driving. The VIPP partners with the Utah Teen Driving Safety Task Force, Zero Fatalities Program, and Utah Highway Safety Office, among other state and local agencies to prevent motor vehicle crash deaths. For the past eight years, a book has been published that tells the stories of teens who died in motor vehicle-related crashes. The book is distributed to each drivers education instructor in the state as a prevention tool. The books can be downloaded at [] or []. The Utah Department of Transportation's Zero Fatalities Program ([]) is a comprehensive, educational campaign aimed at reducing Utah's top five causes of traffic related deaths: not buckling up, drowsy driving, impaired driving, distracted driving, and aggressive driving. Effective May 12, 2015, Utah's seat belt law became a '''primary enforcement law'''. Primary seat belt laws allow law enforcement officers to ticket a driver for not wearing a seat belt without any other traffic offense taking place. All vehicle occupants must wear seat belts and children ages 8 and younger must be properly restrained in a car seat or booster seat. In 2000, the Utah Legislature upgraded the law to make child safety seat use mandatory for children through age four. In 2008, the Utah Legislature enacted a booster seat law, requiring children younger than 8 years of age to use an appropriate child restraint device like a car seat or a booster seat. Previously, the law required only children under age of 5 to use an approved child restraint device. The new law now protects children from 5 up to 8 years of age through use of a booster seat or car seat. However, children younger than 8 who are at least 57 inches tall are exempt from the law and may use a regular seat belt.

Available Services

Call 1-888-DASH-2-DOT or visit [] to locate the certified child passenger safety technician nearest you. Violence and Injury Prevention Program, Utah Department of Health[[br]] 801-538-6141[[br]] [] Safe Kids Utah[[br]] Service provided: child safety seat inspection, booster seat inspection[[br]] 801-538-6852[[br]] [] Zero Fatalities Program[[br]] [] Utah Highway Safety Office[[br]] 801-293-2480[[br]] [] Utah Safety Council[[br]] Service provided: defensive driving course[[br]] 801-262-5400[[br]] [] Intermountain Injury Control Research Center[[br]] 801-585-9157[[br]] [][[br]] [[br]] [[br]] '''NATIONAL WEB SITES:''' Governors Highway Safety Association[[br]] [] National Center for Injury Prevention and Control[[br]] [] National Highway Transportation Safety Administration[[br]] [] Safe Kids USA[[br]] [] Children's Safety Network[[br]] [] U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission[[br]] [] A comprehensive auto safety page with many useful links:[[br]] []

Health Program Information

The Violence and Injury Prevention Program (VIPP) is a trusted and comprehensive resource for data related to violence and injury. Through education, this information helps promote partnerships and programs to prevent injuries and improve public health. VIPP goals are to: #Focus prevention efforts on reducing intentional and unintentional injury #Conduct education aimed at increasing awareness and changing behaviors that contribute to the occurrence of injury #Strengthen local health department capacity to conduct local injury prevention programs #Promote legislation, policy changes, and enforcement that will reduce injury hazards and increase safe behaviors #Collaborate with private and public partners #Improve the Utah Department of Health capacity to collect mortality and morbidity data from multiple sources and conduct injury epidemiology for use in prevention planning, implementation, and evaluation.
Page Content Updated On 10/31/2018, Published on 12/10/2018
The information provided above is from the Department of Health's Center for Health Data IBIS-PH web site ( The information published on this website may be reproduced without permission. Please use the following citation: " Retrieved Fri, 20 September 2019 16:55:08 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Thu, 20 Jun 2019 13:03:27 MDT