CDOT Reminds Motorists to Buckle Up this Holiday

November 23, 2016 - Traffic Safety - Colorado Lags In Seat Belt Use While Nation Reaches Historic High

STATEWIDE — As Coloradans take to the roadways for the Thanksgiving holiday, CDOT is extending an urgent reminder for travelers to buckle up. A new study shows that Colorado is falling behind the rest of the nation when it comes to seat belt use. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the country’s overall seat belt use in 2016 reached a record high 90.1 percent. A 2016 CDOT study reports that Coloradans buckle up only 84 percent of the time, down from 85.2 percent in 2015.  

“We're glad that seat belt use is climbing nationally, but disappointed Colorado isn't keeping up,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety. “That means more lives are being lost on our roadways. Certainly, a stronger seat belt law would improve usage and save lives.”

National use rates have been trending upward since 2000, while unrestrained daytime traffic fatalities are decreasing year over year.

In 2015, the 15 percent of Coloradans that didn’t buckle up represented 52 percent of all passenger vehicle fatalities, and Colorado ranks 39 out of 50 in seat belt use nationwide. In addition, Colorado saw an alarming spike in traffic fatalities last year, with 545 compared to 488 in 2014 — an 11.7 percent increase. This year, preliminary data shows that there have been 546 fatalities so far, already surpassing last year’s numbers.

CDOT attributes the growing discrepancy to Colorado’s secondary seat belt law. Secondary laws only allow law enforcement to issue seat belt citations if drivers are pulled over for another reason. Colorado is one of only 15 states that hasn’t passed a primary seat belt law. When primary laws are passed, use rates rise from six to 15 percent. There is a nine percent gap, on average, between states with a primary seat belt law and those without (92 percent with, 83 percent without).

Seat belts are proven to be one of the best defenses in a crash since they reduce the risk of death and injury by 45 percent. Unbuckled occupants are 30 times more likely to be ejected — one of the most lethal outcomes of crashes. Finally, If you choose to not wear your seat belt, that doesn’t just affect you — you become a direct threat to the people around you when you become a projectile in a crash.

“Our troopers see first-hand the deadly consequences of not buckling up,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “We know the use of seat belts saves lives, and our troopers will continue to strictly enforce seat belt use throughout the holiday season.”

Last year there were three fatalities during the Thanksgiving holiday period. 


CDOT runs two seat belt campaigns to encourage use — Beware of the Beltless and Click It or Ticket. To learn more about the importance of seat belts or view citation numbers from Colorado law enforcement, visit and