SALT LAKE CITY – Nearly half of the traffic deaths involving cars and trucks in Utah last year were the result of people not wearing their seatbelts, according to the Utah Department of Transportation.
John Gleason, the UDOT’s public information officer, says the agency’s annual report on traffic fatalities once again shows how many lives seatbelts save – and likely could have saved.
“Take away the pedestrian, bicyclist and motorcycle fatalities,” he says, “46.7 percent of those killed were not wearing their seatbelts or improperly buckled.”
Gleason adds people who don’t wear seatbelts are 40 times more likely to die in a car crash than those who are buckled.
UDOT’s report shows there were 219 traffic fatalities in Utah in 2013, reflecting an increase of two deaths from the year previous.
The numbers may sound high, but Gleason says 217 traffic deaths in 2012 was a 50-year low for the grim statistic.
And, he says, there are fewer deaths on the roadways in part because the state is being assertive with its public outreach and education, targeting young drivers in high school.
“Making sure that they have awareness and that they have the information necessary to make the best decisions while out on the road,” he says.
Gleason points out in 2000, there were 373 fatalities in Utah, which is 41 percent higher than the most recent numbers.
He adds another reason deaths are declining is because the state prioritizes improving roadways where fatal traffic crashes have been the most common.