A recent article in the Denver Post, discusses how experts in Colorado are urging for stricter laws for drivers in Colorado. In an earlier blog, I noted that traffic fatalities have escalated in Colorado. Part of this seems to be due to the fact that drivers and passengers are not wearing their seat belts.
According to the Denver Post, traffic fatalities increased by 11.7% last year in Colorado, while nationally traffic fatalities increased by 9.3%. There are multiple factors cited for the possible increase, including falling gas prices which allows for more people on the road. However, most seem to be focus on drivers’ lack of apathy for consequences and limited legislation regarding driving laws. Colorado happens to be one of 16 states where law enforcement cannot pull over a driver for the sole reason that they are not wearing a seat belt. Colorado has what is referred to as a secondary enforcement law. The officer must have another reason to pull you over, such as speeding, after which he or she can cite you for the seat belt infraction. Safety authorities, however, feel that to lower these fatalities, the law regarding seat belt enforcement, needs to change.
The Denver Post goes on to state that Colorado’s seat belt use remains consistently lower than the national average at 82.4 percent, with the national average at 87 percent. Therefore, that means that 927,000 Coloradans failed to buckle up, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). According to the CDC, seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and death by about half. Additionally, research shows that primary enforcement of seat belt laws, that is, being able to pull someone over purely for lack of seat belt, “make a big difference in getting more people to buckle up.”
Best and Worse States for Seat Belt Compliance
According to the NHTSA, these are the top 5 and bottom 5 states for seat belt compliance:
- New Hampshire
- South Dakota
Who is Least Likely to Wear a Seat Belt
According to statistics from the CDC, these categories of individuals are less likely to wear seat belts:
- Young people ages 13-20 (of those who died in crashes in 2012, 55% of them were not wearing a seat belt)
- Adults ages 18-34
- Men are 10% less likely than women
- Adults who live in rural areas are 10% less likely
- Those who live in states with secondary enforcement laws (80% compared to those with primary enforcement at 89%)
- Back seat passengers
What can you do?
Make sure to use a seat belt whenever you are in the car, no matter how short the trip may be. Also, require everyone in your car to buckle up before leaving, even those in the back seat. It’s pretty simple, and saves lives!
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