Given that Colorado currently has a secondary enforcement law when it comes to seatbelt usage in automobiles, some experts have been pushing for stricter seatbelt laws. Indeed, according to a recent article in The Denver Post, following a recent uptick in Colorado car accident fatalities, certain experts contend that stricter seatbelt laws would help to prevent traffic deaths.
What are secondary enforcement laws? And if a driver is not wearing a seatbelt and gets injured in a car accident or truck accident, can the fact that she or he was not wearing a seatbelt be used to determine liability for those injuries?
What is a secondary enforcement law? As the article explains, a secondary seatbelt enforcement law means that you cannot be pulled over because you are not wearing your seatbelt. The only way in which a driver can be cited for failing to wear a seatbelt is if she has already been pulled over for another traffic violation. Currently, only 16 states in the U.S. have secondary enforcement laws, and Colorado is one of them.
However, given that there has been a rise in traffic fatalities recently in Colorado (last year alone there was an 11.7 percent increase, or 545 deaths as compared with 488 the year prior), some commentators think that now is the time to make the seatbelt laws stricter. If we want to prevent some of these car accident fatalities, Colorado needs to allow law enforcement officers to pull over drivers and cite them if they are not wearing a seatbelt.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), instituting a primary seatbelt law in Colorado would resulted in an estimated increase of 7 percent in terms of drivers and passengers wearing seatbelts. To put that in terms connected to fatal crash prevention, the NHTSA estimates that Colorado would see around 22 fewer traffic accident fatalities per year and 279 fewer serious injuries. The economic costs would drop, too, with an estimated $72 million. Annually, car accident end up costing about $4.8 billion in Colorado, which equals out to just over $950 for every resident.
If a driver is injured in a car accident resulting from another party’s negligence, but that driver was not wearing his seatbelt, can he be held responsible, at least in part, for his injuries? Colorado law does recognize contributory negligence, which means that a plaintiff’s damages can be reduced by the amount that she or he was responsible. Given that wearing a seatbelt dramatically reduces the chances of injuries in a car accident, someone who failed to wear a seatbelt may be considered contributorily negligent in the event of a lawsuit.
Determining liability for injuries in a car accident can be complicated, but our experienced Denver car accident attorneys can assist you. Call Zaner Harden Law today for a free consultation. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.