CDOT Urges Public to Buckle Up Amid Rising Crash Fatalities, Presents Visual Reminder

September 27, 2016 - Traffic Safety - 147 Unbuckled Fatalities So Far in 2016


STATEWIDE — For driving safety in Colorado, 2015 was a bad year, experiencing a nearly 12 percent spike in traffic fatalities. Sadly, 2016 is shaping up to be no better. As of Sept. 20 there have been 423 traffic fatalities across the state. Last year at this time there were 415.

Of this year’s total, 147 people were not wearing seat belts. To illustrate the danger posed by not buckling up — and the gravity of the situation — stencils representing those 147 victims of unbuckled crashes have been painted on the sidewalks surrounding Civic Center Park. Each stencil carries the message: “Be a Survivor. Buckle Up.”

“Every stencil has the number 147 in the center to show the number of Coloradans we’ve lost in unbelted crashes so far this year,” said Sam Cole, CDOT Communications Manager. Cole also said that the number has likely risen even higher in the short time since the data was pulled. There are seven more fatalities so far this year compared to this point last year.

CDOT increased public education and community outreach this summer on seat belt use through the “Beware of the Beltless” campaign. The campaign focused on the often unknown fact that not wearing a seat belt poses a risk to others in the vehicle, not just the unbuckled occupant. In the event of a crash, an unbelted occupant can act as a projectile and cause serious or even fatal harm to other occupants.

The campaign utilized a broad range of channels including paid advertising, community partnerships, attendance at community events, developing printed and digital educational collateral, CDOT and HealthONE campaign-specific webpages, and press conferences and media relations.

A few of the larger community partners include: the eight-hospital HealthONE network, Yellow Cab, JBS USA, Drive Smart Colorado, four major public school districts and 19 law enforcement agencies throughout the state. (See full list of partners below).

CDOT estimates that so far, campaign messaging has been viewed more than 100 million times across TV and radio ads, media stories, social media posts, event participation, collateral distribution and 53 community partnerships.  

Despite the increased safety outreach, a new CDOT survey shows the statewide seat belt use rate fell slightly in 2016. The average statewide use rate fell from 85 to 84 percent — below the national average of 88.5 percent — and some counties have abysmal use rates. Some of the worst include a use rate of 78 percent in Denver County, 78 percent in Delta, 71 percent in Pueblo and 64 percent in Baca.

“On average, 16 percent of registered Colorado drivers, or more than 625,000 people, are not buckled up,” said Cole. “We hope the visual representation with the stencils of lives lost will strike a chord and convince people to change their behavior and buckle up every trip, every time. It could save their life.”  

Because many fatalities result from drivers and passengers not buckling up, CDOT is continuing its public awareness campaign in 2017 to get more people to wear seat belts.

The stencils, while temporary, will remain around Civic Center Park for approximately two weeks. CDOT will continue outreach and education efforts encouraging seat belt use, constantly exploring new ways to convince Coloradans to buckle up.

The Beware of the Beltless campaign launched this year to address a seat belt crisis in Colorado — the 16 percent of Coloradans who don’t buckle up represent over half of passenger vehicle fatalities. Learn more about Beware of the Beltless at or download creative from theBeware of the Beltless campaign at

Community Partners:

  • Healthcare — Denver Health, the HealthONE Hospital Network (The Medical Center of Aurora, North Suburban Medical Center, Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center, Rose Medical Center, Sky Ridge Medical Center, Swedish Medical Center and the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children), St. Mary Corwin Hospital, Parkview, Medical Center, North Colorado Medical Center.
  • Transportation — Yellow Cab, zTrip, Planet Automotive
  • Law Enforcement Agencies — Arapahoe County Sheriff, Aurora, Arvada PD, Brighton PD, Colorado Springs PD, Castle Rock PD, Cherry Hills Village PD, Colorado State Patrol, Denver PD, Edgewater PD, Englewood PD, Federal Heights PD, Fort Lupton PD, Golden PD, Greeley PD, Littleton PD, Lakewood PD, Pueblo PD, Montrose PD
  • Military — Fort Carson and Schriever Air Force Base, U.S. Air Force Academy, Buckley Air Force Base,
  • Community Organizations — Drive Smart, Safe Kids Colorado Springs, African Community Center, West Metro Fire Rescue
  • Community Events — Greeley Stampede, Weld County Fair, Bands in the Backyard, Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, Adams County Fair
  • Major Employers — JBS USA, HealthONE
  • Public School Districts — Douglas County, Jefferson County, Littleton, Aurora