low seat-belt use

Fifteen percent of Colorado drivers don’t buckle up.

The Colorado Department of Transportation held a press conference Monday to announce its new statewide campaign to spotlight the importance of wearing seat belts.

Beware of the BeltlessThe campaign, which runs through Sept. 15, is called “Beware of the Beltless.” It’s designed to address what CDOT is calling a seat belt crisis in the state.

The campaign launched after the morning press conference, which was held at Denver Health Medical Center, according to Jim Hooley and CW2 staff. The article notes that the increase in people who do not wear seat belts is “scary.”

The campaign emphasizes that when you don’t wear a seat belt, you are putting everyone else on the roads at risk, as well as yourself and your passengers. An unbelted person who is thrown from a vehicle in a car accident can become a projectile and seriously injure or kill people in the vehicle.

Increase in Road Deaths

There was an 11% increase in road deaths in 2015 over 2014, with the number rising from 488 to 545, said CDOT. And the 15% of Colorado residents who do not buckle up comprised 52% of all 2015 passenger vehicle deaths.

At Monday morning’s event, CDOT Executive Director Shailen Bhatt said:

Motor vehicle traffic crashes are one of the leading causes of death for young adults in Colorado. […] An unbuckled passenger in your vehicle increases your risk of being hurt or killed by 40 percent. You should never be afraid to ask others to buckle up — it’s for the safety of yourself and those around you.

Also at the event, Dr. Frederick Pieracci, trauma medical director at Denver Health, said when a person does not wear a seat belt, injuries in an accident can include extensive internal damage to the heart, lungs, and aorta. An unrestrained person who is throw from a vehicle can suffer head injuries and even traumatic brain injury.

Counties With Low Belt Usage Targeted

CDOT chose six counties as the focus of the new campaign, based on data showing low seat belt use and a high rate of fatalities in people who were not wearing seat belts in those counties. They are Denver, Jefferson, Weld, Pueblo, Adams, and El Paso.

Getting the Message Out

Thirty-two confirmed partner groups will be helping the counties to get the message out, including:

  • Health Care: Denver Health, the HealthONE Hospital Network (The Medical Center of Aurora, North Suburban Medical Center, Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, Rose Medical Center, Sky Ridge Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center and the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children), Banner Health, Parkview Medical Center, and St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center
  • Transportation: Lyft, Yellow Cab, zTrip, and Planet Automotive.
  • Law Enforcement: Golden PD, Edgewater PD, Arvada PD, Colorado Springs PD, Littleton PD, Greeley PD, and Colorado State Patrol.
  • Military: Fort Carson and Schriever Air Force Base.
  • Community Organizations: Drive Smart and Safe Kids Colorado Springs.
  • Employer: JBS USA.

The partner groups will help CDOT to save hundreds of lives in the future, Bhatt said. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 63 lives could be saved annually in Colorado, and many injuries prevented if the state can increase the percentage of people wearing seat belts in vehicles to 100%. The press conference also featured an exhibit of crashed cars to drive home the fact that going without a seat belt in a vehicle is risky.

Here is a video public service announcement in the Beware of the Beltless campaign:

Image by Vladimir Tarasov/123RF.

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