According to the National Safety Council’s (NSC) “The State of Safety” report, Colorado currently ranks 33rd in the nation in road safety. Colorado received a “C” grade based on the NSC’s methodology, which amounts to a score of between 50 and 59 percent.
The NSC scored each state based upon 24 indicators in eight categories. Within each category, a state could be rated as either “On Track,” “Off Track” or “Developing.” These ratings were then converted into percentage scores based upon the NSC’s weighting of the indicators in each category. The NSC rated Colorado as “On Track “in just two categories, and as “Developing” in only one.
The good news is that the NSC rated Colorado as “On Track” for two of the three most-heavily-weighted categories: alcohol-impaired driving and distracted driving. With regard to alcohol-impaired driving, this rating was based upon Colorado’s laws imposing:
- Administrative license suspension for BAC above 0.08 percent or refusing a breath test
- An ignition interlock requirement for all DUI offenders
- An open container ban for drivers and passengers
- Sobriety checkpoint programs
Colorado’s On Track rating for distracted driving was based upon two factors: (i) the state’s handheld and hands-free cell phone ban for teen and novice drivers, and (ii) the state’s texting ban for drivers of all ages.
Colorado received its “Developing” rating in the category of teen driver safety. This rating was based upon the fact that Colorado requires a minimum of 60 supervised driving hours, but only has limited restrictions for teen drivers regarding young passengers and nighttime driving.
Colorado received an “Off Track” rating in each of the five remaining categories: (i) child passengers, (ii) older drivers, (iii) seat belts, (iv) speeding and (v) vulnerable road users.
1. Child Passengers
Colorado’s “Off Track” rating for child passenger safety was based upon the state’s lack of laws regarding:
- Rear-facing child seats through age two
- Child restraints or booster seats through age eight
- Children in hot cars
- Protections for Good Samaritans who help unattended children
2. Older Drivers
Colorado’s “Off Track” rating for older driver safety was based upon its lack of laws requiring medical reviews and in-person license renewals for older drivers.
3. Seat Belts
Colorado received an “Off Track” rating in the category of seat belt safety because it does not have a primary seat belt law for passenger vehicles and because use of seat belts on school buses is not required.
Although Colorado received points for having red light cameras, it still received an “Off Track” rating in the speeding category based upon its failure to impose an urban speed limit of 55 mph or less and failure to require lower speed limits in school zones.
5. Vulnerable Road Users
Finally, Colorado received an “Off Track” rating in the vulnerable road users category based upon its lack of legal requirements for:
- Use of motorcycle helmets
- Use of bicycle helmets by young riders
- Stopping for pedestrians in uncontrolled walkways and roadways
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