Closeup of a hand fastening a seat belt in a vehicle.

State Patrol: Colorado seat belt use below national average

© iStock - Ifness

Troopers see serious injury and fatal crashes everywhere in the state, not just in heavily congested areas. In 2024, Colorado reported an 88 percent seat belt usage rate, which is below the national average of 92 percent.

“While many factors may influence the decision to wear a seat belt, unfavorable attitudes can be contagious among families and industries,” stated Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “No matter how careful you are, whether you are only driving on your property, or any other reason, evidence shows that seatbelts save lives.”

Person holding a pitchfork wearing a necktie with the words "Buckle like a boss"

Courtesy Colorado State Patrol

Wearing a seatbelt is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself in a crash. Buckling up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas not buckling up can result in being ejected from the vehicle in a crash, which is almost always deadly. According to national data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) only 1 percent of passengers wearing seat belts were ejected from the car during a crash in 2021 (most recent data year available). NHTSA estimates that nearly 375,000 lives have been saved by seat belt use since 1975.

Another misconception is that vehicles with airbags eliminate the need for individual seatbelt protection. Airbags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them. Airbags are not enough to protect you; in fact, the force of an airbag can seriously injure or even kill you if you’re not buckled up.

All public roads in Colorado are subject to seatbelt enforcement from Colorado State Troopers. If you let your children ride in the back of the pickup on a county road, expect a meeting with a trooper that will cost you $87 per child.

“To help make Colorado roads safer, drivers and passengers need to do their part and buckle up no matter what county they call home,” stated Matthew C. Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “It doesn't matter how long or short the trip, paved road or dirt road, we see lives lost over ‘excuses’ like discomfort or forgetting. Buckle up because no excuse is good enough for your loved ones or our troopers when you are gone.”

When education efforts fail, law enforcement relies on citations to help gain compliance. Troopers dread the next crash they will respond to with unsecured passengers on rural roads.