CDOT and Lyft Guard Lives in Beware of the Beltless Campaign

March 5, 2018 - Seat Belt Spoof Targets Unsuspecting Riders

Of the 434 people killed in Colorado passenger vehicle crashes in 2017, over 50 percent were not wearing seat belts. To raise awareness about the dangers posed by unbuckled occupants—both to themselves and others in the vehicle—CDOTpartnered with Lyft to spoof customers as part of CDOT's Beware of the Beltless campaign.

A paid actor hired by CDOT drove unsuspecting Lyft passengers around downtown Denver over the course of several hours last month. Disguised as a lifeguard straight off a California beach, the actor went into "lifesaving mode" by insisting all riders buckle up. He then delivered safety messages such as "unbuckled occupants are 30 times more likely to be ejected in a crash," and "seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 45 percent."

Footage of the lifeguard's interactions with passengers was captured by a hidden camera and turned into a series of videos. The videos will run on social and digital media beginning today through the end of March to spread these important safety messages across Colorado.

"An unbuckled passenger can increase your chance of being seriously injured or killed in a car crash by 40 percent—even if you are buckled up," said Sam Cole, CDOT's safety communications manager. "Our hope is that this campaign will create a sense of urgency around Colorado's seat belt crisis, and encourage drivers to stop seeing an unbuckled person as a friend but instead as a dangerous object capable of serious harm to others during a crash."

Statewide, seat belt use was 84 percent in 2017, which is six percent lower than the national average of 90 percent. It is estimated that 210 lives in Colorado were saved by seat belts in 2016, but there was potential for 58 more lives to have been saved if there was 100 percent seat belt usage. Colorado is one of only 16 states without a primary seat belt law. When primary seat belt laws are passed, seat belt use rates increase between five to ten percent.

"Anytime we can join forces with our partners at CDOT to promote safety, Lyft is excited to help," said Gabe Cohen, Lyft Rockies region general manager. "Our driver community cares deeply about its passengers, so we are thrilled to showcase their passion through this fun and educational campaign."

In 2002, Christie Haskell survived a violent, high-speed, side-impact car crash. She was belted, riding in the back seat with a friend who wasn't. Haskell's friend flew into her, breaking Haskell's collar bone, forcing her head through the window, and causing permanent hip, spine and neck damage.

Sixteen years later, Haskell still walks with a limp and undergoes regular physical therapy. She says she can't do basic household tasks like folding the laundry or loading the dishwasher—things most people take for granted.

"It's important to understand that when someone chooses not to wear their seatbelt, they're not just risking their own life, " said Haskell. "They are no longer your friend or family member. They become a human wrecking ball capable of permanently injuring or even killing you in a crash. "

Earlier this year, the Beware of the Beltless campaign featured radio spots, digital banners and billboards that educated Coloradans about the dangers of unbuckled passengers. Powerful messaging like, "Is a killer in your passenger seat?" and "Save yourself, make a friend buckle up" aimed to empower those who already buckle up to ask others in their vehicle to do the same.

Learn more about the Beware of the Beltless campaign, and find resources to help spread the word about reducing the number of traffic deaths in Colorado.

About Lyft

Lyft was founded in June 2012 by Logan Green and John Zimmer to improve people's lives with the world's best transportation. Lyft is the fastest-growing rideshare company in the United States, and is available to 95 percent of the U.S. population and Toronto. Lyft is preferred by drivers and passengers for its safe and friendly experience, and its commitment to effecting positive change for the future of our cities. See Lyft's press kit.