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Buckle up for holiday travels: Colorado drivers are below the national average for seatbelt use

Photo of cars driving on a freeway; an electronic sign overhead says "Even Santa wears a seatbelt. Buckle up."
Tom Woodward
CC BY-SA 2.0

The holidays are coming up, which means more people are expected to be on the road. The Colorado Department of Transportation advises all travelers to wear a seatbelt no matter the trip.

Over the summer, consulting firm Atélior conducted an annual study for CDOT to observe the number of people who are following guidelines.

“Unfortunately, we did not see an increase in the overall number of people buckling up in the state over the last year,” said Sam Cole, traffic safety communications manager for CDOT, “but we did see a huge increase in the number of pickup truck drivers that are buckling up.”

The study examined different categories of 119,842 vehicles in the top 31 Colorado counties — where 85% of traffic fatalities have occurred in the past — and determined that about 87% of drivers and front seat passengers wear their seatbelt, putting our state below the national average of 90%.

Table of seatbelt usage rates in Colorado broken down by vehicle type from 2012 through 2021.
Colorado Department of Transportation
Table of seatbelt usage rates in Colorado broken down by vehicle type from 2012 through 2021.

People living in urban areas are more likely to wear seatbelts, with Arapahoe and Denver counties seeing the highest rates at around 95%, while people residing in rural areas, like Pueblo County (66%), have the lowest rate of seatbelt use.

Speed also correlated with seatbelt usage. The study found that people driving on roads with higher speed limits (50+ mph) tended to use their seatbelt more often, while areas with lower speed limits (0-30 mph) saw a decrease in seatbelt use.

When wearing a seatbelt, the risk of a fatal injury decreases by 45%, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.