seat belt useOn May 23, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) kicked off its 2-week-long Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign with an event at the Colorado State Patrol Academy in Golden. Click It or Ticket urges all Coloradans to wear their seat belts at all times when in a vehicle, CDOT announced in a press release.

The event encouraged Coloradans to take the “Lil’ Mac Pledge” to always buckle up. The pledge honors the memory of Mackenzie Forrest, who died in a car accident on March 13. She was not wearing a seat belt. Mackenzie’s dad, Holger Forrest, attended the event, along with some of Mackenzie’s friends, and CDOT and Colorado State Patrol representatives.

According to The Denver Post, Mackenzie Forrest was 17 when she died in a single-vehicle crash on Interstate 70 after being ejected from her SUV. She was a Lakewood High School basketball star who led her team in scoring, and was planning to continue her athletics as a student at Regis University.

Darrell Lingk, director of CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety, said:

As the summer travel season approaches, the May Mobilization effort is critical in keeping seat belt use at the front of people’s minds. Too many people die each year because they’re not wearing their seat belt, and we are honored to work with Mackenzie Forrest’s family to encourage everyone to buckle up in her memory.

National Seat Belt Campaign

seatbelt enforcement

Click It or Ticket is a national campaign from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and since Colorado adopted the campaign in 2002, seat belt use in the state has increased from 72% to 85.2%, CDOT writes on its seat belt information page.

To educate the public about the importance of wearing seat belts, CDOT is teaming up with law enforcement agencies, community groups, and other safety advocates. Thanks to federal funding from NHTSA, CDOT and local law enforcement agencies mount high-visibility seat belt enforcement campaigns throughout the year, working to save lives by getting more people to buckle up.

The minimum fine in Colorado for not wearing a seat belt is $65. In 2014, 156 people who were not wearing seat belts were killed in the state as a result of traffic accidents. Nearly half of the victims would have survived had all had been wearing seat belts.

Who Isn’t Buckling Up?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults between the ages of 18 and 34 are less likely to wear belts than those 35 and older. And men are less likely to buckle up than women.

In addition:

  • Seventy-eight percent of adults in rural areas are likely to wear seat belts, 9% less than adults who live in urban and suburban areas (87% use).
  • Rear-seat passengers are less likely to buckle up than front-seat passengers, meaning they’re more likely to injure themselves and other passengers in a crash.
  • In states with secondary enforcement seat belt laws or no seat belt laws, seat belt use is lower (80%) than in states with primary enforcement laws (89%).

Note that Colorado is a state with a secondary enforcement law for adult drivers and front-seat passengers. That means drivers can only be ticketed for violating the seat belt law if they are stopped for another traffic violation.

History of Seat Belts

As this blog wrote in an infographic:

  • In 1932, plastic surgeon Claire L. Strait and physician C.J. Strickland advocated the use of seat belts, the first such recommendation.
  • In 1949, the 1950 Rambler was the first car ever to be available with optional seat belts.
  • In 1959, the three-point lap and shoulder belt invented by Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin (and commonly used today) became standard on all Volvos.
  • New York was the first state to approve a law requiring cars to have front seat belts, a law that went into effect with 1965 model-year cars.
  • In 1968, the U.S. began requiring front seat belts as standard equipment in all cars.

Here is a new video public service announcement to encourage people to wear seat belts:

Image by ginasanders/123RF.

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