One of the easiest things you can do to protect yourself when you get in the car is to fasten your seat belt. Yet each year there are still many people who needlessly lose their lives simply because they didn’t buckle up. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the average rate of seat belt use in Colorado is just 84%, lower than the national average of 90.1%. During a seat belt enforcement campaign spanning two weeks in May-June 2017, including Memorial Day weekend, a whopping 5,505 drivers were cited for seat belt violations, with an additional 217 ticketed for driving with improperly restrained children.
CDOT notes that “In 2016, 180 people who weren’t buckled up lost their lives in traffic crashes on Colorado roadways. If everyone had buckled up, nearly half of the victims would have lived.” That exact same number of fatalities also occurred in 2013. That year, CDOT issued an infographic Unbuckled and Uncensored, which offers further insight on these fatalities. For instance, this publication illustrates that more men than women failed to buckle up; 49% of the unbuckled fatalities were alcohol-related; and 63% of fatal crashes involved a pickup truck or SUV.
You can find statistical information on seat belt use, car seats, and other safety measures both on CDOT’s website and from our library. CDOT publishes several annual reports about seat belt use, which you can access from our library:
- Car Seat and Seat Belt Use by Age Group in Colorado
- Child Safety Restraint System and Juvenile Seat Belt Survey
- Pre-Mobilization Seat Belt Survey (stats from outside of enforcement periods)
- Statewide Seat Belt Survey
- Teen Seat Belt Survey
Older data, for comparison purposes, can be found in
- Child Safety Belt, Car Safety Seat, and Bicycle Helmet Use, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, 1999
- Safety Belt Fact Sheet, Colorado Department of Highways, 1987 (available for checkout in print)
- Safety Belt Use in Colorado, Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, 2006
- Seat Belt Facts, Colorado State Patrol, 1988 (available for checkout in print)
- Seat Belt Usage Survey, CDOT, 1993
- Strictly Enforcing Colorado Seat Belt Laws to Save Lives, Colorado State Patrol, 2005
- Teen Seat Belt Use Rates for Surveyed Counties in Colorado, Teens Ages 16-20, CDOT, 2005
- Trends in Seat Belt Usage Rates in 25 Colorado Counties, 1996-2004, CDOT, 2006
Also, for more about what the state is doing to try to promote seat belt use, see the CDOT research report Identification of Appropriate Investment Levels to Maintain and Improve Seat Belt Usage Rates in the State of Colorado.
Image courtesy CDOT