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Letter to the Editor: Buckling Up Saves Lives

Utah Highway Patrol

Dear Editor,

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death from ages 2-20. When examining the fatalities it is apparent that a large number of these deaths could have been prevented if drivers and passengers had simply buckled their safety belts.

Although seat belt use is at a national high of 79 percent, a disproportionate number of those still unbuckled are teenagers and young men in their early 20s. At 69 percent, safety belt use for teens and young adults 16-24 continues to lag behind the rest of the population. It's important to note that this is a daytime number; we know that nighttime belt use is much lower among teens and young adults.

For many teens, a driver's license is a ticket to freedom. No more car pools, no more embarrassing parental pick-ups and drop-offs at school. But, tragically a license is also a ticket to an early death for too many teens. So how do we get this group to buckle up when they thing tragedy won't happen to them? Surround them with the strong message, "If you won't buckle up to save your life, then buckle up to save yourself a ticket," and back it up with strong enforcement.

From May 24-June 6, more that 13,000 law enforcement agencies from all 50 states will be cracking down on seat belt scofflaws as they conduct the national Operation ABC Mobilization. The message will be delivered to teens through more that $30 million in Congressionally funded, national and state advertising, internet chat rooms, and public address systems in high schools, in addition to enforcement in locations where young people congregate-such as school and shopping malls.

By buckling up, teens will save more that just a hefty fine, they could save their lives.

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