WYDOT Joins Multistate Campaign on Seat Belt Safety
According to a press release put out by the Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT), agencies from Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming are coming together to remind travelers to buckle up with The State2State Buckle up campaign.
Participating states will alert travelers on social media and digital highway signs and are partnering with local transportation and law enforcement agencies.
Pete Abrams, WYDOT Law Enforcement Liaison, said as someone who has worked for the Casper Police for 25 years, he has seen the impact not wearing a seat belt can have.
"I've worked enough fatal crashes in my time that were easily preventable by wearing a seat belt or helmet. I'll never forget a trooper told me one time, 'you know I've never unbuckled a dead man, and that kind of stuck with me."
Wyoming’s current seat belt use rate is 82.5%, which is below the national average of 90%.
Abrams said a hurdle that Wyoming faces when it comes to increasing seat belt compliance, is the fact that Wyoming is a secondary enforcement state.
That means a police officer cannot pull someone over just because they are not wearing a seat belt, and that the person must be breaking the law in some other way to be pulled over.
If Wyoming became a primary enforcement state, someone not wearing a seat belt could be the reason that an officer pulls someone over.
Across the country, 20 states have primary seat belt laws, including Utah and New Mexico, while Colorado and Nebraska have secondary enforcement only for the front seat.
Abrams said he wished that more people would follow seat belt laws, due to the disproportionate deaths that car accidents cause.
"We kill 10 times as many people on our highways every year than die through violent crime in Wyoming," Abrams I graph this out every year, we generally average about 130 fatalities on the highway and about 13 homicides in Wyoming every year. But it's not sexy, it's not a page turner, it's not a headline."
From 2010 to 2019, Wyoming had 556 unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities, and across the country in 2019, there were 9,466 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes.
The multi-state campaign launches alongside the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s and Wyoming’s Click It or Ticket May seat belt enforcement period.