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Colorado seat-belt rates are decreasing

Wearing a seat belt seems like such common sense, and yet so many people fail to buckle up. The rates in Colorado are among the lowest in the nation, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The rate for 2017 was 83.8 percent, slightly down from the year before and well below the national average of 89.7 percent.

Why do people fail to wear seat belts? Does this simple precautionary measure even make a difference?

Seat-belt laws in Colorado

This state has a secondary seat-belt law, meaning that police officers cannot pull you over for failing to wear a seat belt but can add it to your ticket after pulling you over for a different traffic violation. This is a significant reason why rates are low, finds the CDC. States with primary seat-belt laws have higher compliance. Other factors that affect seat-belt use include the following:

  • Gender: Women wear seat belts more often than men.
  • Age: Younger adults have lower rates.
  • Location: Metropolitan areas have higher usage.
  • Seating position: Those in the front seat are more likely to "click it."

Colorado does not penalize unbuckled passengers in the backseat, only those in the front. However, minors under 16 years old must always wear a restraint whether in the front or back.

Effectiveness of seat belts

Another reason Colorado residents may not use seat belts is that they do not understand how effective the devices are at providing safety. In fact, the CDC says that seat belts prevent about half of fatalities and severe injuries in motor vehicle accidents.

It may seem unnecessary to buckle up just for a trip literally around the corner, but a crash can occur the second you are on the road. Not wearing a seat belt may affect your ability to recover compensation or reduce how much you can receive. With so much at stake, it is best to always wear your seat belt. 

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