Deadly decisions: seat belt use down, traffic deaths up

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DENVER -- Ashley Mohr was on her way to see some friends when she got into a crash with a drunk driver who was speeding as he ran a red light.  She says her seat belt saved her life. 

“The crash responders all said I would have been thrown from the vehicle and hit by oncoming traffic.  So the seat belt did save my life,“ Mohr says. 

The Colorado Department of Transportation says unfortunately, the number of people in Colorado who died without seat belts has increased for the first time since 2002. 

Last year, CDOT says 187 unrestrained drivers and passengers died.  That’s up significantly from 164 the year before. 

The biggest offenders are young men between 18 and 34, people in pickup trucks, people driving at night, people driving in rural areas and Hispanic drivers and passengers.

CDOT points out that if you are wearing your seat belt and are in a crash, your chances of surviving that crash are 50 percent greater. 

“It’s a no brainer,” says CDOT spokeswoman Stacey Stegman.

Colorado law enforcement’s annual “Click it or Ticket” campaign started Monday.  If you are pulled over for something else and are not wearing your seat belt, Stegman says you will get a ticket and that will cost you $65. 

Mohr says she keeps a picture of her crashed car with her to show passengers who balk at buckling up.  “It’s a rule in my car,” she says. “It takes two seconds and that’s two seconds you don’t get back when an accident is happening.”

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