‘Click It or Ticket’: UHP and DPS talk seatbelt safety during press conference

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4)- The Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) along with the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS) held a press conference Thursday to highlight the use of seat belts when driving on the road.

Major Beau Mason of the UHP said during the press conference that using seatbelts was “the best lifesaver we have in a motor vehicle accident.” The UHP and DPS will put into effect two plans to make sure people are wearing their seatbelts.

First, the DPS will implement the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, an educational program that instructs the public on the importance of being in compliance with using seat belts. The second will be through enforcement. UHP along with deputies and other officers throughout the state will be out on the roads starting Nov. 24th and throughout the holiday season.

“We’re going to have over three hundred enforcement shifts that law enforcement will be participating in,” Mason said. ”These enforcement shifts are aimed at those who choose to be non-compliant.”

Mason emphasized that the majority of people in Utah or those traveling through are already compliant and that the programs are aimed at those drivers who choose not to wear a seatbelt. Those who do not wear seatbelts make up 25% of the fatalities on Utah’s roadways, according to Mason.

“We don’t like that and we’re here to combat that,” he said. If anyone is caught driving without their seatbelt, Mason said not to expect a warning but a citation.

Mario Landeros-Escobar, a crash survivor whose vehicle was caught on dashcam footage flipping over several times during slippery road conditions, was part of a panel discussion during the press conference to talk about the importance of wearing seatbelts. Landeros-Escobar was able to walk away from the crash because he was wearing his seatbelt.

State Trooper Ken Chugg was the officer whose dashcam captured Landeros-Escobar’s vehicle flipping over. He was also part of the panel discussion.

Landeros-Escobar was driving from Oregon to Utah when he hit what he calls “a water puddle.” He then lost control of his vehicle and rolled over about six times. 

“The best thing I had was the seatbelt on me,” Landeros-Escobar said. “And that is what saved my life.” In the moments when the crash was happening, he said he thought about his family and said he was grateful to be alive because he wore his seatbelt. He also said he felt scared while the crash was happening and urged people to wear their seatbelts.

“Things happen and we don’t know when [they’re] going to happen,” he said.

During the panel discussion, Landeros-Escobar thanked Chugg for being there and for assisting him after the crash. Chugg said he found a few scrapes on Landeros-Escobar when he checked on him but overall he was okay. He also recounted the events leading up to the crash along with the uncertainty of the situation.

“At that moment, you really don’t know what you’re going to find when you approach the vehicle,” Chugg said. However, he said he was certain that Landeros-Escobar would not be alive had he not worn his seatbelt and been cushioned by the airbags in the vehicle. Chugg also acknowledged the help of passers-by who made sure everyone was fine.

“We understand that people are people and accidents will happen,” Chugg said. “We can’t bring the accidents down to zero. But wearing seatbelts, we can greatly reduce that number of people with serious bodily injury or even death.”

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