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CDOT and Lyft launch 'Beware of Beltless' campaign - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

CDOT and Lyft launch 'Beware of Beltless' campaign

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COLORADO -

The Colorado Department of Transportation and Lyft have launched a campaign to address a serious issue involving car drivers and passengers not buckling up. 

It's called the 'Beware of the Beltless' campaign to raise awareness in the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt. According to CDOT, a total of 434 people were killed in Colorado passenger crashes last year, with over 50 percent of those people not wearing seatbelts.

CDOT has partnered with Lyft to "spoof" customers as part of the campaign. CDOT hired a paid actor to drive a Lyft car around downtown Denver disguised as a California lifeguard, insisting that any and all passengers buckle up when getting into the car.

The disguised driver also shared some safety messages to all passengers, telling them things like "seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury in a crash by 40 percent." The interactions were all recorded on a hidden camera and will be shared as a series of videos on social media throughout March to spread the message across the state.

“An unbuckled passenger can increase your chance of being seriously injured or killed in a car crash by 40 percent – even if you are buckled up,” said Sam Cole, Safety Communications Manager at CDOT. “Our hope is that this campaign will create a sense of urgency around Colorado’s seat belt crisis and encourage drivers to stop seeing an unbuckled person as a friend but instead as a dangerous object capable of serious harm to others during a crash.”

Unfortunately, the state of Colorado is six percent lower than the national average in seat belt use from 2017. Colorado averaged 84 percent seatbelt use while the national average was at 90.

According to CDOT, it is estimated that 210 lives in the state were saved by seat belt use in 2016, but there could've been 58 more lives saved if the average was at 100 percent. Colorado is also one of 16 states that doesn't have any primary seat belt law, which could increase seat belt use five to 10 percent. 

Lyft said it is excited to help in promoting safety with CDOT in this valuable campaign. 

A survivor of a violent, high speed crash shares her story as she was wearing her seatbelt during the crash but the passenger in front of her wasn't. Christie Haskell was involved in the accident in 2002, where she says her friend, the front passenger, flew into her during the crash and broke her collar bone.

Haskell's head went through the window and caused permanent hip, spine and neck damage. 16 years later, she still experiences difficulty and has to go to physical therapy regularly.

She shares her story in hopes to awaken drivers and passengers in understanding how truly dangerous not wearing a seatbelt can be. “It’s important to understand that when someone chooses not to wear their seatbelt, they’re not just risking their own life,” said Haskell. “They are no longer your friend or family member. They become a human wrecking ball capable of permanently injuring or even killing you in a crash.”

CDOT uses powerful messages in hopes to resonate with people, like "save yourself," "is a killer in your backseat" and more. To find out more about the campaign, visit CDOT's website

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