So Why Do Drivers and Passengers Fail to Buckle Up?
All 50 states, including Colorado, have mandatory seat belt laws, so why doesn’t everyone buckle up?
Wearing a seat belt can prevent car accident injuries by restraining both the driver and the passengers from sudden impact during an automobile accident, and not wearing a seat belt is punishable by law. Despite seat belt laws, a lot of people don’t wear them for a variety of reasons, such as:
- They think wearing a seat belt is not important when driving only a short distance or when traffic is very light.
- They forget to wear them, especially when they are in a hurry.
- They haven’t made wearing seat belts a habit.
- They believe that seat belts are unnecessary because their car is equipped with airbags.
- They consider seat belts uncomfortable, because they are too tight, or the shoulder strap cuts across their neck.
- Wearing a seat belt causes their clothing to become wrinkled.
- They think wearing a seat belt is not “cool,” especially if others in the car are not wearing them.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 percent of the people killed in car accidents were not restrained with seat belts at the time of the crash, and seat belts remain the most effective way to prevent serious injury and death in a car accident.
Colorado Is a Secondary Seat Belt Law State
Seat belt laws are generally classified into two types:
- Primary, meaning law enforcement officers are allowed to issue tickets to drivers and passengers who are not wearing seat belts without any other traffic violations. Thirty-four states, including the District of Columbia, have primary seat belt laws.
- Secondary, meaning law enforcement personnel are allowed to issue tickets on drivers or passengers who are not wearing seat belts only if there is another traffic violation involved. Fifteen states, including Colorado, have secondary seat belt laws. In Colorado, a driver in violation of the seat belt law is guilty of a Class B traffic infraction and subject to a $65 fine and a $6 surcharge.
Colorado seat belt laws require the driver and all passengers seated in the front seat of a motor vehicle to wear a seat belt whenever the vehicle is in operation on a road or highway. The state’s child restraint law compels passengers 15 years old and younger who are riding in a vehicle to be properly secured regardless of where they are sitting. Infants up to age one and children weighing less than 20 pounds must be restrained in the back seat of the vehicle in a rear-facing car seat.
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), seat belt usage in the state increased by two percent in 2019, improving to 88.3 percent. This was the highest number recorded record-keeping began in 1997, when only 60 percent of people were wearing seat belts. The national seat belt use rate in 2019 was approximately 90 percent.