Utah Department of Safety: Seat belt procedure

Seat belt procedure

1022.1 – PURPOSE AND SCOPE

To establish the Utah Department of Public Safety’s policy regarding the use of safety belts and child safety seats by employees. The use of seat belts and other safety restraints significantly reduces the chance of death or injury in case of a traffic collision.

This policy establishes guidelines for seat belt and child safety seat use to promote maximum operator and passenger safety, thus reducing the possibility of death or injury as the result of a motor vehicle crash. This policy will apply to all employees operating or riding in Department vehicles (Utah Code 41-6a-1803).

1022.2 – WEARING OF SAFETY RESTRAINTS

The Department recognizes the lifesaving benefit of occupant restraint usage. All employees should wear properly adjusted safety restraints when operating or riding in Department-owned, leased or rented vehicles and while operating or riding in privately owned vehicles while on duty. The driver is responsible for ensuring all occupants, including non-employees, are in compliance with this policy.

It is the intent of this policy that all employees wear seat belts whenever possible. However, sworn officers may dispense with wearing safety restraints in specific tactical situations or when it reasonably appears that, due to unusual circumstances, wearing a seat belt would hinder rather than increase safety.

All persons 16-years of age or older occupying the front or rear seat of a police vehicle shall wear available safety restraints unless physical conditions would prevent such from being applied (Utah Code 41-6a-1803(2)).

1022.3 – TRANSPORTING CHILDREN

A passenger of a police vehicle younger than 8-years of age should be secured using a child restraint device in the manner prescribed by the manufacturer of the device (Utah Code 41-6a- 1803(1)(a)(ii)). A passenger under 8-years of age who is 57-inches tall or taller is exempt from the requirement to be in a child restraint device and should use a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt as required for passengers 8-years of age and up to 16-years of age as described below (Utah Code 41-6a-1803(1) (b)). Members of the Department who are rendering assistance to the public in an emergency or unusual situation are permitted to transport a child a short distance in a state vehicle without using an approved child safety seat, if none is readily available.

A passenger of a police vehicle 8-years of age and up to 16-years of age should be secured in a properly adjusted and fastened safety belt (Utah Code 41-6a-1803(1)(a)(iii)). Rear-seat passengers in a cage-equipped vehicle may have reduced clearance, which requires careful seating and positioning of seat belts. Due to this reduced clearance, children and the child restraint system or booster seat should be secured properly in the front seat of these vehicles, provided this positioning meets the vehicle and child restraint system manufacturer’s design and use recommendations. In the event that small stature adults or a child under 12 years of age is transported in the front seat of a vehicle, the passenger side airbag should be deactivated. In the event this is not possible, officers should consider arranging for alternative transportation.

1022.4 – TRANSPORTING PRISONERS

Whenever possible, prisoners should be secured in the prisoner restraint system in the rear seat of the patrol vehicle or, when a prisoner restraint system is not available, by seat belts. The prisoner should be in a seating position for which seat belts have been provided by the vehicle manufacturer. The prisoner restraint system is not intended to be a substitute for handcuffs or other appendage restraints.

1022.5 – INOPERABLE SEAT BELTS

No person shall operate a Department vehicle in which the seat belt in the driver’s position is inoperable. No person shall be transported in a seating position in which the seat belt is inoperable.

No person shall modify, remove, deactivate or otherwise tamper with the vehicle safety belts, except for vehicle maintenance and repair staff who shall do so only with the express authorization of the Superintendent – Colonel.

Employees who discover an inoperable restraint system shall report the defect to the appropriate supervisor. Prompt action will be taken to replace or repair the system.

1022.6 – SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITIES

Supervisors who become aware of a violation of this policy should immediately issue to the violating employee a written letter of warning. A copy of this letter of warning should be signed by the employee acknowledging receipt of a copy of the letter, and a copy of the letter will be placed in the employee’s permanent personnel file. Subsequent violations will result in progressive disciplinary action being taken which could potentially result in a loss of employment.

Employees are strongly encouraged to use safety belts and child safety seats at all times when driving or riding in vehicles, even in situations not covered by this policy.