The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol, and 89 other state agencies recently finished carrying out a seat belt enforcement campaign. During the course of the campaign, state law enforcement wrote 5,983 citations, including 295 involving children!
Transportation officials and law enforcement found these numbers worrying, as seat belts are essential to surviving a car accident. Seat belts are especially important for child passengers, who depend on their parents to set an example.
According to CDOT, seat belts were responsible for saving 169 lives in Colorado in 2014. National Highway of Traffic Safety Administration statistics estimate that seat belts increase the risk of surviving a car accident by 50 percent for both drivers and passengers. Why do seat belts work? It comes down to the laws of physics.
Why Seat Belts Save Lives
We can use the top speed allowed in Colorado (75 mph) to explain why seat belts save lives. The inertia (the tendency for objects to continue moving until something works against objects) of your vehicle and yourself are separate. This means that when your vehicle slams into another object, the vehicle and yourself (or passengers) stop in different ways.
If you were travelling at 75 mph without a seat belt, your vehicle would stop upon hitting an object, but you would keep moving until you hit whatever is right in front of you, whether that be the steering wheel or windshield. This means you would fly into whatever is in front of you at or close to 75 mph!
Fortunately, seat belts spread out this devastating stopping force and keep you from flying through the windshield or steering wheel at 75 mph. The same rules apply for your passengers. See why seat belts are so important?
What Are Colorado’s Seat Belt Laws?
After explaining the physics behind why seat belts work, tickets should be the least of your concerns. However, drivers can be fined for not buckling up in Colorado. Drivers can also be fined when passengers do not use seat belts.
Colorado has secondary enforcement laws for adult drivers, meaning they can be ticketed if they are stopped for other violations. For teenagers (all drivers under 18), primary enforcement laws mean drivers and their passengers can be pulled over for not wearing seat belts. The same rule applies to children under 16 years old.