“Wear your seat belts!” is the mantra of the day from the Pueblo Police Department because of the rash of deaths involving unbuckled drivers this year. According to The Pueblo Chieftain, police reports confirmed that in the seven crashes that claimed lives on the city streets of Pueblo, six of the victims were not wearing seat belts.
On the county highways, four people died in accidents in which they were unrestrained at the time of impact. The trend is particularly disturbing in the city because the numbers are up instead of down.
In 2013, six people died in car accidents on the city’ roads, but only two of those victims were not wearing seat belts. As noted by the city’s new head of the traffic division, Sgt. Howard Jackson, the few seconds it takes to buckle a seat belt can save a life and would have cut down on the road fatalities the city has seen so far this year.
If you’re unrestrained, you have a higher likelihood of serious injury, because you will be thrown about inside the car or thrown out of the vehicle entirely upon impact. Colorado State Patrol has also weighed in on the situation in Pueblo. According to their figures, over 1,000 people in the county were cited for failing to wear a seat belt over the first half of 2013, with the citation resulting in a $65 fine and an additional surcharge.
However, for those not wearing a seat belt, a fine might be the least of their worries. Nate Reid, a state patrol trooper, estimated that over 50 percent of the deaths in the crashes investigated by the department could have been avoided if the person had simply been wearing his or her seat belt.
Sgt. Jackson touched on another alarming fact in the recent fatal accidents involving unbuckled drivers and passengers in Pueblo: age. With two of the fatalities being younger people, defined by Jackson as being between 15 and 25 years of age, the sergeant hinted that a combination of a lack of driving education involving seat belts and the youthful sense of invincibility is at play.
Fatal accidents involving unrestrained drivers and passengers isn’t just a problem in Pueblo. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, more than 150 people who weren’t wearing seat belts lost their lives in crashes across the state in 2010.
While the federal initiative “Click It or Ticket,” brought to Colorado in 2002, has increased the number of people wearing seat belts, thousands of people still go unrestrained each year. A 2013 seat belt usage report conducted by the Colorado DOT found that only 82 percent of car occupants wore seat belts, with commercial passengers and drivers coming in at less than 70 percent.
Wearing a seat belt doesn’t guarantee you’ll be safe in a crash, but it does increase the odds significantly in your favor. Always make sure you and your loved ones take the time to fasten your seat belts anytime you’re headed out onto the road. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.