CDOT previews upcoming seat belt campaign

News Release

September 13, 2023 - Statewide Safety News - Sneak peek offered in Pueblo where buckling up lags behind

Haga clic aquí para ver este comunicado de prensa Pueblo fue seleccionado para un vistazo previo de la campaña del uso del cinturón de seguridad, ya que se encuentra rezagado en su uso en español.

Statewide —Today the Colorado Department of Transportation was joined by local health, safety, and business leaders in Pueblo to offer a preview of CDOT’s upcoming statewide seat belt campaign. The campaign will mimic what it’s like for unbelted people during a rollover crash.

Pueblo was selected for the preview announcement as seat belt usage rates continue to lag in the area. The recently released 2023 Colorado Statewide Seat-Belt Study, which can be found by clicking here, found only 74 percent of vehicle occupants in Pueblo County were buckled up. This is an increase from 2022 when the same study found 67 percent of Pueblo vehicle occupants wore seat belts. However, these numbers are well below the statewide average of 88.6 percent. Seat belt usage in neighboring El Paso County was also notably low with just 79 percent of people buckling up. Pueblo, El Paso, and Jefferson counties were the only counties where seat belt usage was below 80 percent.

Statewide, last year 236 people killed in crashes were not buckled.

“The encouraging news is that more Coloradans are buckling up, including drivers and passengers in Pueblo,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Highway Safety Office at CDOT. “Keeping that positive momentum can make a huge difference in reducing fatal crashes as seat belts remain the most important safety feature for vehicle occupants.”

CDOT’s 2024 seat belt safety media campaign will feature a rollover simulator that illustrates the severity of a violent crash. The simulator repeatedly rotates a full-size vehicle cabin with a test dummy inside. To take a look at the campaign, click here. CDOT offered news media a demonstration of the simulator, joined by members of Colorado State Patrol Troop 2D, Pueblo County Sheriff David J. Lucero, and representatives from St. Mary-Corwin Hospital and the Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce.

“There is no way of predicting exactly how a crash will play out,” said Captain Michael Tafoya, Colorado State Patrol Troop 2D. “Terrain, speed, and angles of impact are among many factors that can turn what might seem like a relatively minor collision into a serious or even deadly crash if seat belts aren’t being worn.”

The 2023 Colorado Statewide Seat-Belt Study found that drivers and passengers in pickup trucks were least likely to buckle up, with a seat belt usage rate of 82 percent. Commercial vehicles had the second lowest seat belt usage rate at 83 percent, while SUV and van drivers and passengers had the highest, 91 percent and 90 percent, respectively. The study also found that seat belt use was lowest on local roads, 85-percent statewide, likely as a result of lower speed limits than on primary roads such as highways and interstates.

“Bad crashes aren’t confined to busy highways. They happen everywhere from local streets to county roads,” said Pueblo County Sheriff David J. Lucero. “Wearing a seat belt needs to be a habit, something each of us does any time we get into a vehicle, even if we’re just driving on neighborhood streets to run a quick errand.”

In addition to increased chances of fatal injuries, unrestrained vehicle occupants often experience serious injuries as a result of not being buckled up. “Seat belts are often the difference between injuries that last weeks or months, and those that can last years and become life-altering,” said Nancy Bartkowiak, Trauma Program Manager at St. Mary-Corwin Hospital. The impacts of serious injury were also reflected by Noah Commerford, Pueblo Latino Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “Whether on the job or not, seat belts have an impact on families, and our business community as a whole,” said Commerford.

The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety estimates that a lack of seat belt use costs U.S. businesses $5 billion annually in crashes involving employees both on and off the job. To see the report on seat belt usage and business costs, click here. Families are also likely to face much higher costs. Hospital bills for vehicle occupants not wearing a seat belt at the time of a crash can be up to 360 percent higher than those for vehicle occupants who were buckled up. For the report on seat belt usage and medical costs, click here.