Hundreds of Lives Lost in Car Accidents
Car Accidents are the leading cause of death among people ages 1 to 54. One of the most reliable safety features in a vehicle is a seat belt, and yet some still refuse to take a few seconds to buckle up.
Sadly, for thousands of people, that oversight proves deadly, and others pay the price with long recovery times from injuries that might have been avoided had they used a seat belt.
Seat Belt Use Varies Widely
When it comes to the use of seat belts, both for drivers and passengers, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established specific criteria to research seat belt use in the U.S, and recently published its 2017 observations. According to the research, New Hampshire had the lowest compliance with seat belt requirements at only 67 percent, while Georgia’s rate of compliance was a little over 97 percent. Here in Colorado, we have seen the rate of usage of passenger restraints go up and down, but according to NHTSA, last year 83.8 percent of Colorado vehicle passengers were said to use seat belts; that is a slight decrease from 2016, when NHTSA noted that seat belt use in The Centennial State was 84 percent.
Just as usage varies, so do states’ seat belt laws. As explained by the Governors Highway Safety Association, some states have a primary seat belt law, while other states have a secondary law. What’s the difference?
- In states with a primary law, if you are the driver or passenger in a vehicle, and you are not wearing your seat belt, you can be ticketed without there being any other infraction noted.
- For states with a secondary seat belt law, such as Colorado, you can be ticketed for not wearing a seat belt only if you are pulled over for some other violation. In other words, if you are obeying all traffic laws and there’s no reason to pull you over, even if law enforcement notes that those in the vehicle are not buckled up, they cannot ticket you.
These laws, of course, apply only to adults and older children; there are stricter requirements for restraining infants and young children. Regardless of how old you are, and whether you are sitting in the front seat or back, failure to buckle up is an error way too many make. Sadly, the consequences can be devastating.
Seat Belts Save Lives
According to the latest statistics, more than 37,000 people were killed in vehicle crashes in the United States in 2016. Of that number, more than 10,000 were not buckled up. In addition to those killed, more than 2 million vehicle occupants were injured in 2016.
In Colorado, last year was a deadly one on the roads. Authorities note that 630 were killed in accidents; of those killed, 211 people were not restrained. A few seconds to buckle up could have saved hundreds of lives.
And just who is not wearing safety belts? Authorities have consistently noted these risk factors when it comes to non-compliance:
- Young drivers, those age 18-24, are said to have the highest rate of non-compliance
- Men are much less likely to buckle up when in a vehicle than women
- Those who live outside of metropolitan areas are more likely to ride unrestrained in a vehicle
For everyone in Colorado, if you are among those who don’t use a seat belt, consider this: One in every 33 drivers in the state will be in a car accident this year. You improve your odds of surviving by doing one simple thing: Buckle up every time you are in a vehicle.