Posted in Blog on May 25, 2013
Western states, including Colorado, have some of the highest seat belt usage rates in the country, hovering at around 94%. That information comes from statistics released recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In Colorado, seat belt usage rates have increased to close to 83% since the Click It or Ticket campaign was kicked off in 2002,. The number of persons killed in accidents because of failure to wear seat belts has dropped by as much as 56% during the same period of time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data indicates that national seat belt usage rates are at their highest levels ever, touching 86% last year. Just 10 years ago, that rate was 75%.
However, a state like Colorado could actually increase seat belt usage rates further if all occupants of the car, including those sitting in the backseat, were also covered under the law.
Those seatbelt usage rates could also spike if these laws were made primary enforcement laws. The current laws are secondary enforcement laws, which means that a police officer must first note some other infraction, before he can pull a motorist over for a seatbelt violation.
Federal statistics show that states that have primary enforcement laws, have much higher seat belt usage rates, compared to states that make failure to wear seatbelts a secondary enforcement offence. According to the NHTSA data, in states that have primary enforcement laws, seat belt usage rates were around 90%, while in states with secondary enforcement laws, the average rate was about 78%.
However, there is still hope for states like Colorado that have held out on primary enforcement laws. Last year’s massive transportation funding bill authorizes the federal administration to dangle financial incentives before Colorado and other states to coax them into enacting stronger seat belt laws.