Colorado’s seat belt usage rate sees jump from 2018 |

Colorado’s seat belt usage rate sees jump from 2018

More Coloradans are buckling up before driving, according to a recent survey by the Colorado Department of Transportation.

In 2019, the state’s seat belt use rate increased by 2%, from 86.3% to 88.3%, the highest rate since record keeping began in 1997. Of note, Colorado still falls short of the national average of 90%. Though, with unbuckled passenger vehicle deaths making up more than half of vehicle deaths in the state last year, every bit helps.

“We are pleased to see a record share of Coloradans buckling — with a meaningful increase of 2% in the past year,” CDOT executive director Shoshana Lew said in a news release. “Buckling your seat belt can be a lifesaving decision, and we encourage both drivers and passengers to stay focused on safety so we can continue to improve over the year to come.”

The survey identifies use rates for different Colorado counties. The highest seat belt use rates tend to be in higher population areas like Denver, Douglas and Arapahoe counties, which all have use rates above 90%. Lower seat belt usage is more commonly reported in the state’s rural counties, like Moffat and Cheyenne that both reported use rates lower than 80%. There was an 89.9% use rate in Summit County, according to the survey.

The survey also dove into what types of drivers were buckling up and where. The highest percentage usage was among SUV (92%) and van (90.1%) drivers, while the lowest percentage usage was among commercial vehicles (75.8%) and pickup trucks (82.6%). The survey also revealed that drivers are more wiling to use seat belts while going faster on highways than on local roads.

The annual seat belt survey is required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and is conducted by trained observers collecting data at 770 sites across 31 counties in Colorado.

“This annual survey provides critical insight to the seat belt use habits across the state and helps us know which counties need more focus and education,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Our goal is to bring both the rural and urban county use numbers closer together to increase Colorado’s overall seat belt use and lower passenger vehicle fatalities.”

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