Seat belts save lives, regardless of what your state’s laws say about wearing them. Numerous studies from nationally recognized safety organizations, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, have demonstrated the importance of seat belts in car accidents. In 2017, for example, nearly half of those killed in car accidents (47%) were not wearing seat belts. If everyone had buckled up, seat belts could have saved an additional 2,549 lives in 2017. Wearing your seat belt may also keep you out of legal trouble in Colorado, as the state has a few seat belt laws in place.
Does Colorado require seat belts for drivers or passengers?
The Colorado government takes seat belt use seriously. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) promotes seat belt use statewide through strategies such as annual Click It or Ticket campaigns. According to CDOT data, 220 unbuckled vehicle occupants died in Colorado car accidents in 2018. At least 70 people would have likely survived if they had been wearing seat belts. Approximately 86% of Colorado residents wear seat belts, which is 4% less than the national average of 90%. Colorado ranks in the bottom one-third of states in terms of seat belt use nationwide.
Although Colorado does not have a universal seat belt law requiring all vehicle occupants to buckle up, it does require all drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts. Colorado’s universal seat belt law requires drivers and front seat passengers to wear a seat belt at all times. Colorado lawmakers chose this type of seat belt law based on evidence that the risk of fatal injury is greater for front-seat passengers than those in the back seat. Although back seat adult passengers are not required to wear a seat belt, their chance of injury increases without its use.
Colorado’s seat belt law has an exception for vehicles manufactured before 1968 that do not have seat belts. Vehicle occupants with physical or mental disabilities that prevent the use of a seat belt may also be exempt from the state’s seat belt requirement. These individuals may need letters from their physicians verifying an official diagnosis of a disabling condition that prevents the use of a seat belt to avoid receiving tickets from police officers.
Colorado car seat requirements for child occupants
Colorado’s seat belt law requires all minors to wear seat belts. It does not matter if they are drivers or passengers, or where they sit in the car. Anyone under the age of 18 must wear a seat belt at all times in a motor vehicle, or risk the parent or guardian getting a citation.
Young children are subject to additional child restraint requirements under state law, which requires the use of child safety seats for children under the age of eight. Depending on their:
children must use rear-facing car seats, forward-facing car seats, or booster seats.
Colorado seat belt law penalties for non-compliance
Colorado has a secondary seat belt law, meaning police officers cannot use the failure to wear a seat belt as the sole reason for pulling a driver over. Police officers may not stop a car due to lack of seat belt. The officer must perform a traffic stop for another reason. Only then may an officer issue a citation for failing to comply with the state’s seat belt laws. The officer may ticket the driver and any passengers who should be wearing seat belts under the state law. In Colorado, failing to wear a seat belt is a Class B traffic infraction punishable by a $65 fine per offense.
Failing to wear a seat belt could result in civil law consequences. If you get into a car accident and suffer serious personal injuries, lack of seat-belt wearing according to the Colorado seat belt law could give the at-fault driver a reason to refute liability for your injuries. The defendant could owe you less compensation after proving your injuries reasonably would have been less severe had you been following Colorado’s seat belt law, for example. Our Denver car accident attorneys can only do so much to help you restore your life after auto collision injuries.