Colorado Gets Answers on Seat Belt Use
Why, why, why would you do something to risk your life unnecessarily — such as driving without a seat belt?
The Colorado Department of Transportation asked, and 898 state residents gave their views on why they buckle, or don’t.
The agency recently released the results in its 2016 survey on driving behaviors, which touches on seat belts and other safety factors. The views are more significant in light of a record number of traffic fatalities in 2016. And they add depth to an ongoing CDOT public information campaign to encourage you to strap in. This is the survey’s third year.
The best news is the survey results show that the vast majority of Coloradans, 88 percent, say they always buckle up, even though it’s not a primary reason for police to pull you over.
Coloradans whose main vehicle is a pickup truck were the least likely to say that they always wear seat belts (only 76 percent do). It’s a big gap from car drivers, of whom 96 percent said they always buckle, and 94 percent for drivers of SUVs, vans, and minivans
Women were close to 10 percentage points more likely than men to say they always strap in. About 92 percent of women surveyed made the claim, compared with only 83 percent of men.
Trip length and the type of road are big factors in whether people opt to click it or not. Coloradans are more likely to buckle if they are traveling on highways or interstates, and for longer distances than those going on short jaunts on local roads or neighborhood streets.
About 83 percent said they always buckle within 2 miles of home, but beyond that point, another 9 percent will strap in. And if you take the on-ramp to the interstate, the buckled rate jumps to 96 percent. That’s 98 percent of women and just 93 percent of men in the survey. And those pickup truck daredevils? About 91 percent buckle up when they hit the highway.
What Do They Know?
Outsiders and the financially well-off seem to have an inside track on safety. Both groups are more likely to wear seat belts than are long-term, less financially endowed Coloradans.
About 94 percent of people who have spent 20 years or less in the Centennial State say they wear their seat belts all of the time, compared with 84 percent of people here for 21 years or more. About 86 percent of folks earning less than $50,000 a year wear theirs all of the time, while 89 percent of people earning more than $100,000 are regular belters.
Fear of a Sparingly Enforced Law
Unlike many other states, Colorado law prevents police from using failure to wear seatbelts as a primary reason to stop a driver. But even so, some drivers are wary.
Less than half of the Coloradans surveyed didn’t know about the rule and thought it likely they would be ticketed if they were to drive for six months without being buckled. On the other hand, about 45 percent thought it would be somewhat or very unlikely.
Women, adults 35 and older, and lower-income people were more likely to think they’d get a ticket than the others.
Wanting Change in Colorado
Most of the people answering the questions indicated they’d like to see Colorado seat belt laws tightened up. About 65 percent said they’d support making it a primary reason for police to pull over drivers. Women, though, are more likely than men to support the rule (72 percent to 58 percent).
When asked for their reasons, those wanting tougher laws tended to mention reducing injuries from auto accidents and saving lives, the report said. Opponents, however, tended to say that buckling up should be a matter of personal choice.