SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Ahead of the Thanksgiving weekend, the Utah Department of Public Safety and Utah Highway Patrol (UHP) are reminding Utahns to buckle up when travelling this holiday season.

As part of the reminder, law enforcement agencies throughout the state will be increasing seat belt enforcement between Nov. 23 and Nov. 27.

According to UHP, seat belt usage in Utah is on the rise. UHP Major Jeff Nigbur said 91.8% of Utahns are buckling up – a 4% increase from 2021 and reportedly the highest seat belt usage UHP has seen to date.

“We saw a decrease in seat belt usage in 2021, so we’re thrilled to see the number going in a positive direction again,” said Major Nigbur.

In a statement, the Utah Highway Patrol emphasized the importance of not only wearing a seatbelt, but wearing it properly. As part of its campaign, UHP shared the story of Melissa Zelig, who survived a crash in July 2021.

“My seat belt did what it was supposed to do,” said Zelig. “It kept me in place, saving my own life and preventing me from harming others in the car.”

Zelig was reportedly traveling to Wyoming for a backpacking trip when she was in a head-on collision. Her car was struck by another car that was attempting to pass a semi-truck while going the opposite direction. Zelig said in a press event that her seat belt saved her life and the lives of other passengers in the car, despite their severe injuries.

“Drivers and passengers should wear seat belts, do so properly, and encourage others to do the same,” UHP said in its statement. “It isn’t just a personal decision; it’s the law.”