Colorado increased seat belt usage this year |

Colorado increased seat belt usage this year

Summit Daily staff report

Colorado drivers are getting better about using their seat belts, but they’re still trailing behind drivers in the rest of the county.

According to a new survey published by the Colorado Department of Transportation earlier this month, seat belt usage in Colorado increased by 2.5 percent in 2018 after three years of decline. Seat belt usage increased from 83.8 percent in 2017 to 86.3 percent in 2018, though Colorado is still lagging behind the national seat belt average of 90 percent.

“Although some counties improved, overall, the state is below the national average,” said Darrell Lingk, director of CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety. “Colorado unfortunately lacks a primary seat belt law, so people are only cited for not wearing a seat belt when they are pulled over for another traffic violation. This results in less people buckling up.”

While data for the entire country is yet to be collected for 2018, Colorado ranked 40th in the country in seat belt usage last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Last year there were 222 unbuckled fatalities on Colorado roads, accounting for more than half of the 410 total passenger vehicle deaths in the state.

Rural communities appear to be the biggest offenders of driving unbuckled. Five of the six counties with the lowest use rates were rural: Cheyenne (65 percent), Delta (75), La Plata (76), Montezuma and Chaffee (77). Summit County came in with a usage rate of 86.8 percent, just above the state average.

“Each year this survey gives insight on where we need to focus our efforts to increase Colorado’s seat belt use,” said Colorado State Patrol Chief Matthew Packard. “As in past years, rural couties use seat belts less than other areas in the state. We need to improve in these regions, and all regions, to increase Colorado’s seat belt use and lower passenger vehicle fatalities.”

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