In his 28 years with the Utah Highway Patrol, Lt. Lee Perry has seen a lot of carnage from crashes in which motorists weren’t wearing seat belts. One crash in 2013 really struck home: He arrived at a scene where two teen passengers in a truck had been ejected in a rollover and discovered one was the son of a family friend. Both teens died.
Perry, who is also a state representative, later met with the mothers of the two teens, who urged him to take action. He did. He sponsored a bill that would let police stop a car and ticket people solely for not wearing a seat belt — a move designed to act as a deterrent to scofflaws by increasing the chances they could get pulled over and possibly pay a $45 fine.
When his bill became law in 2015, Utah became the 34th state, along with the District of Columbia, to have a “primary seat belt,” or “click it or ticket,” enforcement law.
“I’m hoping this will not only save lives, but it will save tax dollars,” Perry, a Republican, said. “We spend a lot of money on hospital costs, and commerce gets shut down on our highways for long periods of time if we have to block them when there’s a serious accident and someone is ejected. When you start to look at the dollars and cents, it made sense.”