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PHOM Indicator Profile Report of Seat Belts: Safety Restraint Use

Why Is This Important?

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 Safety Belt Use Rate: Adult and Front Seat Passenger, Utah, 1990-2017

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In 2017 the observed seat belt usage was '''88.8%''' overall for all 17 counties. These 17 counties accounted for 90.2% of motor vehicle traffic crash-related fatalities in which the victim was an occupant of a vehicle according to data from the Utah Death Certificate Database for the period 2013-2015.

Data Sources

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

Data Notes

Beginning in 2012, the Utah Highway Safety Office began to observe front seat passengers of 17 counties whereas in earlier years observations were conducted in only the six most populous counties.

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).

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.

Healthy People Objective: Increase use of safety belts

U.S. Target: 92.0 percent
State Target: 92.4 percent

Date Indicator Content Last Updated: 10/31/2018

Other Views

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 Sat, 17 August 2019 21:20:12 from Department of Health, Center for Health Data, Indicator-Based Information System for Public Health Web site: ".

Content updated: Thu, 20 Jun 2019 13:03:28 MDT