Two Trouble Spots in Youth Driving Behavior: Speed and Seat Belts

Hide Featured Image

(COLO) – Despite being the safest and one of the easiest decisions a driver and passenger can make, Colorado (86%) still falls below the national average (90%) with seat belt use, and the younger the driver the greater the chance they aren’t buckling up. Teens, as both drivers and passengers, have the lowest rate of seat belt use of any group, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

“Younger drivers tend to underestimate the risks in behaviors like speeding, texting while driving, and failing to wear a seat belt,” stated Col. Matthew C. Packard, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Without parental support and positive ‘road models’, it is up to chance that these young drivers will get pulled over and corrected before an unexpected crash happens.”

In 2021, the top reason drivers aged 16-21 received a ticket from the Colorado State Patrol was exceeding the posted speed limit. Failure to use or improper use of a seat belt was the third highest offense.

In a crash, after impact, the body keeps moving at the speed it was before even though the vehicle has slowed or come to a complete stop. The body will keep going until it comes into contact with another object such as a seatbelt, a car door, a dashboard, a windshield, another human body, or even an object outside the vehicle.

“You can’t plan for a crash and there won’t be time to brace yourself in some way that would stop you from serious injury,” explains Col. Packard. “Driving the speed limit and using a seat belt keeps you inside the vehicle and increases your chances of survival by 50%.”

Colorado’s Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) law requires all drivers under 18 and their passengers, regardless of their age, to wear seat belts. This is a primary enforcement, meaning teens can be pulled over simply for not wearing a seat belt or having passengers without seat belts.

Colorado also has a secondary enforcement law for adult drivers and front-seat passengers to wear seat belts.


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.