- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - In a story July 5 about violations under a new Utah seat belt law, The Associated Press erroneously reported information about the number of stops and citations issued. Patrol officers conducted 5,350 stops this year compared to 2,310 during the same period last year, not more than 6,178 stops this year compared to 3,928 last year; and about 70 drivers received full citation tickets this year, not 900.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Thousands cited for violating new Utah seat belt law

Thousands cited, some more than once, for breaking new Utah seat belt law

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Thousands of motorists have been cited since a tougher Utah seat belt law went into effect nearly two months ago, state transportation officials said.

More than 5,000 drivers have been caught not wearing seat belts since the law was enacted May 12, according to Utah Highway Patrol data. Of those, about 70 have received full citations. Full citations are tickets written for drivers who already got a first-time warning.

“There are a lot of people out there who say, ‘I don’t care what the law says, I’m not going to buckle up,’ ” said Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, who is also a Highway Patrol lieutenant and penned the initial legislation.

Under the new law, an offender who already got a warning can be fined $45. But the fine can be waived upon completion of a 30-minute safety course online. Failure to wear a seat belt was already a primary offense for drivers and passengers 18 and younger.

So far, the Utah Highway Patrol has made about 5,350 stops because of a lack of seat belt use, the Salt Lake Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/1Cj8Cbs).

During the same time period last year, patrol officers conducted 2,310 stops.

More stops means more troopers are educating the public, Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Todd Royce said. The agency too often sees fatalities that could have been prevented with a seat belt, he added.

“Still over 50 percent of fatal crashes involve the driver or one of the passengers not wearing seat belts,” Royce said.

Among the examples he cited was a crash last month in Logan involving five Utah State University athletes. All five were seriously injured when a semi T-boned their SUV. According to Royce, none of them were buckled up.

“If everyone in that SUV had been wearing seat belts, there’s a very good chance that three of them would have walked away with very minor injuries compared to what they sustained,” Perry said.

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