CDOT's hearse procession highlights grave consequences of not buckling up

Traffic Safety Pulse News

On June 16, CDOT held a funeral hearse procession in Denver to bring attention to the importance of wearing a seat belt. Last year 236 unbuckled drivers and passengers were killed on Colorado roadways. Colorado also has a seat belt usage rate below the national average. The hearse procession, held in high-traffic areas throughout Denver, serves as a somber reminder of what could be a person’s final journey if they fail to buckle up.

The demonstration was held in conjunction with CDOT’s annual statewide seat belt study. Last year’s survey, which can be found by clicking here, included 744 locations in 26 counties across the state. The study found that just 87% of people buckle up, far below the national average of 92%. The survey tracked seat belt use across five vehicle categories — SUVs, vans, cars, commercial vehicles and passenger trucks.
The lowest seat belt usage rates by county in 2022 were:

  • Weld County (80.1%)
  • Fremont County (78.1%)
  • Chaffee County (69.2%)
  • Pueblo County (67.6%)

The counties with the highest seat belt usage in 2022 were:

  • Grand County (96.3%)
  • Garfield County (96.3%)
  • Arapahoe County (93.8%)
  • Denver County (93.6%)

The rolling display underscores the consequences of not buckling up and encourages people to take personal responsibility for their own safety. Increasing public awareness of the safety benefits of seat belts can help improve seat belt use.

Hearse procession through downtown Denver

CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director, Darrell Lingk, emphasizes the significance of this initiative, stating, “Hearses make a powerful statement about the potential consequences of not wearing a seat belt. We hope this memorable visual will serve as a stark reminder of what could happen in the event of a crash and encourage Coloradans to buckle up.”

The hearses, provided by Sendak Hearse Rental, joined forces at CDOT headquarters before commencing their route through Denver, passing notable landmarks and neighborhoods such as Denver Union Station, Ballpark District, River North, Five Points, and South Broadway. The convoy, featuring hearses adorned with messages like "Buckle Up: Avoid This Ride" and "Click It or Ticket," garnered attention from onlookers.

“I have seen the consequences of driving unbuckled. Aside from being illegal, you are putting yourself at risk of injury and death” states Paul Timmons of the Aurora Police Department. “Please buckle every time you get behind the wheel, and ensure everyone in your vehicle is buckled too, so you can avoid an ambulance or hearse being your next ride.”

In 2022, there were 236 unbuckled fatalities in Colorado. The counties with the highest number of unbuckled fatalities were Adams (27), El Paso (22), Pueblo (22), Weld (22) and Denver (21).
“Wearing a seat belt significantly improves your ability to survive a crash,” said Colorado State Patrol Chief Matthew C. Packard. “Clicking your seat belt is such a small effort that pays off tremendously — it can save your life. Seat belts are often the difference between life or death.” To read more about the hearse procession, click here.