Mar 052007

What if we could save lives and prevent terrible injuries simply by enforcing a law that is already on the books? Colorado can do that by allowing police officers to stop and cite drivers for not wearing their seatbelts. The legislature is considering a bill that would allow primary enforcement of the seatbelt law, meaning police could stop motorists solely for not wearing their seatbelts. This bill is a critical public health and safety measure.

Primary enforcement laws work. States with primary enforcement laws have higher rates of seatbelt use and lower fatality rates from car crashes than states without them.

Both direct and indirect economic costs of car crashes also would be reduced by ensuring that more people use seatbelts. For example, hospital costs for people who are unbuckled in car crashes are higher than for those who were buckled.

Primary enforcement laws benefit everyone, but are especially beneficial to members of minority groups, who are statistically less likely to use seatbelts and are overrepresented among crash fatalities. In states with primary enforcement laws, minorities are statistically more likely to buckle up and survive. The best evidence to date indicates that primary enforcement laws do not lead to police harassment. In fact, there is well-documented evidence to the contrary.

Drivers don’t have the option of ignoring any other traffic safety law. Let’s be consistent. Primary enforcement laws have proven effective. We strongly urge the Colorado legislature to pass the bill allowing for primary enforcement of existing seatbelt laws.

Averil Strand

board president

Health District of Northern Larimer County

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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