CDOT and Partners Announce Increased Teen Seat Belt Safety Outreach for “Back to School”

August 16, 2016 - Traffic Safety - Goal: Eliminate Number One Cause of Death for Teens

DENVER — The facts are startling — car crashes are the number one cause of death for teens in Colorado. As students head back to school and spend more time on the road, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and partners Sky Ridge Medical Center, HealthONE, Douglas County School District and South Metro Safety Foundation are urging parents and teens to buckle up.

At a press conference Tuesday, Aug. 16, in front of the pediatric emergency room entrance at Sky Ridge Medical Center, speakers urged young drivers to buckle up and gave stark reminders of how unbelted accidents can have catastrophic consequences.

“Driving or riding without a seat belt is incredibly dangerous to everyone in a vehicle,” said Sam Cole, CDOT Safety Communications Manager. “There is a seat belt crisis in Colorado, and we need to do everything in our power to persuade parents and their kids to buckle up every time they’re in the car.”

The number of drivers 15 to 20 years old involved in a fatal crash in Colorado increased by 28 percent in between 2009 and 2014.

Adult seat belt use is also directly related to properly restrained children. A national study of fatal crashes found that when adult drivers used a seat belt, children riding with them were restrained 94 percent of the time. If an adult driver was not using a seat belt, child restraint use decreased to 30 percent.

Douglas County Public Schools will reach out through the district’s mobile app, Sky Ridge Medical Center and other HealthONE hospitals throughout the Denver Metro will increase outreach to hospital staff and patients, and South Metro Safety Foundation will continue grassroots community outreach through young-adult seat belt safety education programming. CDOT will also run televised seat belt safety PSAs throughout the state. These PSA’s are available at: or

Speakers at the event included Tracy Sherman, Board President of the South Metro Safety Foundation; Dr. Amy Johnson, Pediatric Emergency  Medicine Physician at Sky Ridge Medical Center; and three students from Chaparral High School that developed a teen driving safety campaign last year.

Parents and children can learn more at   

The Beware of the Beltless campaign launched this year to address a seat belt crisis in Colorado — the 15 percent of Coloradans who don’t buckle up represent over half of the 2015 passenger vehicle fatalities. The campaign raises awareness about exactly how an unbuckled person poses a risk to themselves, other people in the vehicle, and even those outside the vehicle. Learn more about Beware of the Beltless at