Last year, 187 people got into vehicles in Colorado and died after they neglected to do something that may have saved their lives: Buckle their seat belts. Admittedly, some crashes are not survivable, but most are – thanks in part to new roadway engineering and vehicle safety improvements that are continuing to increase the odds of surviving a crash.
Despite these advances, technology’s role is limited, and human behavior must make up the difference if Colorado is to continue to see a decline in the number of people killed on our state’s roadways. That is why the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol are asking everyone to take two seconds to buckle up and make sure children are properly protected in an appropriate child safety seat – every trip, every time.
This request comes in conjunction with overtime enforcement of the state’s seat belt and child passenger safety laws as part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign, May 21 through June 3. Since Click It or Ticket enforcement began in Colorado 10 years ago, the number of people killed unbuckled in crashes has declined by 50 percent. While that news is positive, we know it provides no comfort to the families and friends of the 187 people who died last year without seat belts. In La Plata County in 2011, 11 drivers or passengers lost their lives – four of those may have survived if they had been buckled up.
Perhaps a seat belt ticket or the risk of getting one will be enough to convince more people to buckle up and save lives. While getting a $65 seat belt ticket will anger some people, it may be a lifesaving reminder that will prevent them from putting their loved ones through a loss that may have been prevented with one simple click.
Major Lawrence Martin is the District 5 commander for the Colorado State Patrol in Southwest and South-Central Colroado). Kerrie Neet is Region 5 transportation director for the Colorado Department of Transportation in Southwest and South-Central Colorado).