Our view: You could save a life | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: You could save a life

At issue: The correlation between local highway deaths and failure to wear seat belts

Our view: We were dismayed to be reminded that four of the five people who died in highway accidents here  in 2017 weren’t buckled up.

Steamboat Today reported Jan. 15  that the majority of the five traffic deaths in Routt County last year were preventable. And we are both dismayed and disturbed that area motorists continue to get behind the wheel without taking a moment to buckle their seat belts.

The Colorado State Patrol confirmed to the newspaper that, for the second year in a row, five people had died in motor vehicle accidents here in 2017. That ranks 2016 and 2017 as the deadliest years on local roads since 2009.

In spite of the fact that Colorado law requires drivers and other adults riding in the front seat of a vehicle to wear seat belts, four of the five people who lost their lives in traffic accidents here last year weren’t buckled up.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) reports that 16 percent of people in Colorado do not wear their seat belts, and those people account for almost half of passenger vehicle fatalities.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Association estimates that over 60 people could be saved if 100 percent of automobile passengers buckled up.

What else do you have to know before you change your habits and always buckle up?

In three of the five fatal crashes from 2017, the drivers were impaired by either drugs or alcohol, compounding their failure to put on their seat belts.

The excuse that seat belts are “uncomfortable” is lame. And we can’t empathize with drivers who  deliberately avoid seat belts because they don’t like the state telling them what to do.

We would venture that there are drivers who choose not to wear seat belts, but wouldn’t think of failing to buckle their own toddler into a child safety seat.

It’s harsh to say, but motorists who don’t take that precaution are disregarding the emotional pain and economic hardship their recklessness can bring down on their loved ones. Nor do we take lightly the emotional impact that emergency first responders endure when responding to a needless highway death.

Few of us set out on an automobile trip with an awareness that death could be waiting around the next curve. If we did, we might slow down and take more precautions with our driving and seat belt habits.

We can say with confidence that newspaper reporters who have responded to the scene of a fatal accident will return to the newsroom with an indelible impression of how suddenly bad things happen, even in good driving conditions.

We aren’t optimistic that this newspaper editorial will succeed in changing anyone’s seat belt habits. And that’s why we call on our readers who consistently wear seat belts to pester their loved ones and friends who don’t wear them, until they relent.

You could save a life.

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