Using seat belts saves lives and it's the law

I wanted to express my appreciation to Journal Staff Writer Tobie Baker in regards to his story headlined, “Survey shows 75 percent of Main Street drivers wear seat belts” (Journal, Jan. 3.) This is a tremendous issue in our county that is literally costing people their lives.

When we look at the fatal motor vehicle crashes the Colorado State Patrol investigated in 2013 in Montezuma County, 50 percent of the occupants were not wearing their seat belts. To put this in perspective, these are mothers, fathers, children and friends that were not around this holiday season. These are individuals who were and will be greatly missed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those aged 5-34 in the U.S. The CDC also says seat belts reduce serious injuries and deaths by about 50 percent.

Seat belt enforcement is one of the top Colorado State Patrol focuses. This is an area where we will not – and do not – give warnings. We were allocated 140 hours of Click It or Ticket Grant money to use in Montezuma and Dolores counties for 2014. Troopers will be out specifically seeking driver’s who are in violation of this law or who allow occupants to violate this law. If you are under the age of 18, you not only face fines, but points against your license.

The easiest and most effective way to ensure you and your passenger’s safety is to properly wear your seat belt every single time. I not only speak from a professional standpoint, but on a personal level. I am a “seat belt survivor” from a horrific crash I was involved in when I was 16. The only thing that kept me inside my rolling pickup was the seat belt I chose to put on and properly wear that morning. I am grateful for the example my parents set as they unknowingly taught me to drive while I was a small child in the back seat watching their every movement.

Sgt. James W. Saunders, Colorado State Patrol