HB79: Bill passes senate committee “unrestrained”

By Will Glade
Capital West News

SALT LAKE CITY — Last week’s debate of Rep. Lee Perry’s, R-Perry, primary seat belt law in the House chamber was nothing short of impassioned, but when the bill was considered by the Senate Business and Labor Committee the discussion seemed pretty tame.

In fact, the bill received a favorable recommendation from the committee with a vote of 3-1 (three committee members were absent). Moreover, several individuals appeared before the committed in support of the bill.

“The Worker’s Compensation Fund supports this effort as a means to promote safety and improve our workers compensation system,” said Dennis Lloyd, Senior Vice President of the Fund.

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Perry testified in front of the committee that the goal of this bill was not to generate revenue but to educate. “We are going to take away any ability for people to make it a revenue generating thing, we want to make it a traffic safety issue,” said Perry.

As the bill stands, those who are cited for not wearing a seatbelt can have the fee waived if they take a 30-minute online course which deals with traffic safety — specifically seat belts. Along with the fee waiver, those who are pulled over for not wearing a seat belt cannot be issued a ticket if they have not previously received a warning for failure to use a seat belt.

Not only did the Workers Compensation Fund and the Highway Patrol show support but many others did as well.

“If drivers are unbuckled, only 76 percent of the kids are restrained,” said Dr. Tom Metcalf, a retired general pediatrician. “If the drivers on the other hand are buckled up, 87 percent — 11 percent more of the kids — will be restrained appropriately.”

“Safety is a learned behavior,” said Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City. She told the other members of the committee that her grandchildren have become sensitive to wearing their seat belts. “If they are in the car and if they are not buckled right they start freaking, ‘Grandma! Don’t drive, I haven’t got it right.’ It’s learned, and children learn from their parents and the people they’re with, so it’s a learned commodity. And, I think this is where we need to be. We need to be a safe society,” she said.

Sen. Deidre Henderson, R-Spanish Fork was the only present member who voted against the bill, but was unavailable for comment on her dissenting vote.

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