Seat belt use in Colorado dropped to 84 percent last year. A new CDOT campaign compares not wearing a seat belt to pulling the pin on a hand grenade. Get the facts on smart seat belt use.

Seat Belt Safety Is More Than a Personal Choice

Not wearing a seat belt compares to pulling the pin on a hand grenade according to the “Beware the Beltless” campaign of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Both drivers and passengers face a 40 percent greater risk of serious injury or death when anyone declines to buckle up.

The emblem of the campaign is a 9-foot-tall model of a grenade that will be on display in public places across metro Denver in spring 2017. Written in spray paint across the big grenade’s surface is the slogan, “An unbuckled passenger can be just as deadly.”

“In a crash, unbuckled passengers become dangerous and deadly projectiles; an unbuckled person in a car might as well be a propane tank or a grenade, or a deadly rocket,” Colorado safety experts say.

According to CDOT statistics, seat belt use dropped across Colorado from 85 percent to 84 percent in 2016, while across the United States, about 90 percent of passengers buckle up. And while the beltless are only 16 percent of Coloradans, passengers without seat belts account for nearly half of the state’s traffic fatalities.

A Personal View of the Danger

The injuries to Christie Haskell’s face, wrist, and spine are constant reminders to her about the risks of riding without your seat belt fastened, KUSA-TV’s Nelson Garcia reported.

In 2002, Haskell was buckled into the back seat of a car that was hit directly in the side by another car going about 55 mph.

“The passenger sitting next to me wasn’t wearing his seat belt,” Haskell said. “He slammed into me. It forced my face to break the window next to me.”

Haskell suffered serious injuries and required multiple surgeries to rebuild her face and body. She recovered enough to walk again and is now helping CDOT warn others about the perils of riding without restraints.

What You Don’t Know About Seat Belt Safety

The CDOT offers these facts about seat belt safety:

  • Slow crashes are dangerous. Hitting the dashboard at 25 mph is like falling from a second-story window.
  • Don’t be a human wrecking ball. Unbuckled passengers can fly into others, causing injuries or death.
  • You’re not safe in the back seat. Many people decide that buckling isn’t necessary while in the back, but there are no properties to protect them from flying through the windshield or colliding with a friend in a crash.
  • Being unbuckled in a crash increases your chances of being ejected from a crashing car by 3,000 percent. Then the odds of surviving are very slim.
  • Vital organs such as your brain, spinal cord, and liver can sustain serious damage in a crash. Seat belts secure you at your hard points: your hips and breastbone.
  • Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that auto accidents in Colorado cost the state more than $623 million each year in medical expenses and work loss.
  • Death isn’t the only thing to fear in crashing without a seat belt. Many live but sustain crippling injuries that leave them dependent on friends and family for the rest of their lives.
  • A quarter of people who don’t wear seat belts don’t believe they improve safety. Knowledge can save lives.
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