Next time you’re staring at your phone in Civic Center Park, you might notice the number 147 under your feet.
This isn’t the work of a scofflaw tagger with a passion for safety. It’s a message from the Colorado Department of Transportation that, so far this year, 147 people have died in car crashes while wearing no seat belt.
That’s seven more than this time last year.
Results from a new CDOT survey about statewide seat belt use don’t portend well for the rest of the year either. In 2016, the rate of seatbelt use fell slightly to 84 percent, which is below the national average of 88.5 percent.
And before you pat yourself on the back for being a sophisticated urbanite, consider that CDOT says Denver County scored among the worst in seatbelt usage with 78 percent. Not quite as bad as the 64 percent usage rate in Baca County.
Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As CDOT itself notes, 2015 was a bad year for driving safety in the state and “2016 is shaping up to be no better.”
As of Sept. 20, there have been 423 traffic fatalities across the state. Last year at that point, there were 415, the agency said in a press release.