Seatbelts and Graduated Driver’s Laws

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(COLO) – We were all young once. Even the most seasoned Colorado State Trooper had their first day behind the wheel. Teens driving today face a myriad of obstacles and hazards that may be much different from what their parents did. In addition to teenagers having the lowest usage of seatbelts, distracted driving has become a sign of the times. Even car manufacturers have tried to offset the hazards of distraction with driver assist features like lane assist and adaptive cruise control.

Troopers want to offer a note of caution: Don’t let part of the solution further perpetuate the problem. These technological advances are not there to allow you to be distracted. And parents need to step in to provide boundaries on the number of passengers in their teen’s car and where to store technology while their teen drives.  

Colorado statute prohibits drivers under 18 from picking up their device while in the driver’s seat, even to change the music or check directions. New drivers with less than six months are prohibited from having any passengers unless a licensed 21-year-old passenger is present. After the first six months, teens are allowed one passenger, and everyone in the vehicle, regardless of age or location, must be properly buckled.

These laws solved a serious problem in Colorado. Data shows a nearly 50% reduction in teen driving fatalities from the inception of these laws in 1999 to 2019. Fast forward to today, in 2023, 81% of occupants, regardless of age, who survived a fatal crash wore their seatbelts.  Only 19% of those who were not buckled in those same crashes survived.    

In addition, teen drivers can also be pulled over if they or any of their passengers are seen without a seatbelt. Over a three-year period (2021-2023), the Colorado State Patrol has issued just under 1000 seat belt citations to young drivers under age 18 (993 citations).


couple with seat belt ties


Since our origin in 1935, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) has focused on preserving human life and protecting property within our communities. Our 1,100 members embody the core values of Honor, Duty, and Respect in their daily jobs.  In addition to our expertise in motor vehicle safety on the state’s roadways, the CSP is responsible for the Governor and other dignitaries’ protection, commercial motor vehicle enforcement, hazardous materials, homeland security, communications, investigative services, criminal interdiction, community education, aviation operations, and more.