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Buckle Up or Be Pulled Over

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Starting Tuesday police can now pull over motorists in Utah for not wearing seat belts.

For nearly 80% of Utahns who drive, the first thing they do when they get in their car is buckle up. But for Rep. Lee Perry, who is also a Utah Highway Patrolman, that number just isn’t high enough. So, this past legislative session he worked on a bill that changes the crime of not wearing your seat belt from a secondary to a primary offense. That means not wearing your seat belt can be the only reason a police officer is pulling you over.

“My belief is that you’ll see law enforcement go out, actively educate and enforce this law and people will say, ‘you know what? It’s just like speeding. It’s like speeding. I don’t want to get pulled over. I don’t want to go through the nuisance of getting a ticket or even just getting pulled over,’ and more people will wear seat belts,” Perry says.

But not everyone thinks the law change is a good idea. Josh Daniels is a policy analyst with the Libertas Institute. He says, beyond the fact that adults should be able to choose for themselves whether or not to wear a seat belt, it’s inappropriate for the state to use a law as an educational tool.

“At the end of the day, every one of the laws we pass has attached to it, albeit sometimes hidden, the use of government force to coerce people’s actions," Daniels says. "So, I think when you’re talking about educating the public, government coercion might not be the right approach.”

The new law is only in effect until July 1, 2018, unless the legislature chooses to keep the program going.

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