Early this week, one man was killed and three others were injured in a serious rollover crash on I-25. News 5 reported that the southbound lanes of the interstate remained closed around mile marker 94, just south of Pueblo, for several hours as investigators attempted to discern the cause of the accident.
Pueblo police say a 61 year-old Arizona man was driving his grandchildren– a five-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl– and wife in a Nissan Pathfinder when it drifted off the roadway around 8:15 a.m. He tried to swerve back on the roadway, but over-corrected, causing the van to roll over and slide 30 yards before rolling again over the median. The two children, who had been sleeping in sleeping bags in the backseat of the SUV, were not wearing seat belts and were ejected, as was the driver. The woman was not ejected in the car accident. At this time, police believe the man may have fallen asleep at the wheel, though the cause of the accident is still under investigation.
The man was killed in the accident, while the children sustained very serious injuries. The girl was airlifted to Denver; her brother, whose fifth birthday is today, was hospitalized. Their grandmother sustained more moderate injuries, but was taken to the hospital as a precaution.
Motor vehicle accidents like this one happen all the time– they are a major public health problem. The Centers for Disease Control reported that more than 2.3 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in hospital emergency rooms as a results of being injured in auto accidents in 2009. Auto accidents are the leading cause of death among those age 5-34. But seat belt use has a huge impact on the outcomes of car accidents like this morning’s tragic rollover crash in Pueblo. Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50%. Would a life have been saved, would injuries have been avoided, had all the passengers of that Pathfinder buckled up?
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation’s 2011 Seat Belt Survey, about 82.1% of passengers in all vehicle types use seat belts state-wide. Seat belt usage is reportedly 83.9% for passenger cars, 88.5% for vans, 84.4% for SUVs, and a mere 70.8% for trucks.
Though Colorado does have a law mandating seat belt use, it is what is referred to as a “secondary enforcement seat belt law.” A secondary seat belt law
s permits police to ticket unbelted motorists only if the vehicle is stopped for another infraction, such as speeding. This law is limits enforcement, compared to a primary seat belt law, the type already in effect in 26 states in acrossthe nation. A primary seat belt law allows police to stop motorists solely for being unbelted. Consequently, increasing seat belt usage in Colorado is up to you– so buckle up! You and your loved ones are only in control of the actions you take, not those of other drivers. The negligence of a careless driver can cause serious — even fatal– injury to a less conscientious motorist not wearing a safety belt.
If you or someone you love have been injured in an auto accident that was not your fault, seek legal counsel immediately. The Colorado Springs attorneys at Heuser & Heuser are experts in auto accident civil litigation and can help secure the compensation you or your family deserves.