Seat belt use by local teens seems strong |

Seat belt use by local teens seems strong

Scott N. Miller
NWS Seat Belts3 PU 2-1

EAGLE-VAIL – Elena Sanchez isn’t afraid to make her friends mad.Sanchez, a senior at Battle Mountain High School, is a dedicated seat-belt wearer, and she insists everyone riding with her do the same. That doesn’t wear well with everyone.”Some of my friends don’t like it,” Sanchez said. “I just wait.”Sanchez’s dedication to seat belt use makes her like most teens in the state, nearly 70 percent of whom wear their seat belts. But more adults use seat belts. And for teens, who by definition aren’t experienced drivers, not wearing a seat belt can have permanent consequences.

Two teens died on Eagle County’s roads in 2005. Both died in the same accident in March. Neither was wearing a seat belt.Chelsea Araydin knows first-hand what it’s like to ride out an accident while strapped into her seat.”I’ve wrecked two cars,” Araydin said. “If there’s anyone who knows about using a seat belt, it’s me.”Araydin was buckled in during both of her accidents, and walked away from them. “I always wear it,” she said.

Several of the students who talked about seat belt use said they picked up the habit from their parents.”I grew up with my parents always making sure I wore it,” junior Dirk Van Curen said. “They wanted me to be safe.”But kids, like anyone else, can forget things.”I make sure my friends wear theirs, and when I forget they remind me,” senior Gustavo Bronfield said.Based on a quick after-school sample, students at Battle Mountain seem more inclined to wear seat belts than other Western Slope teens. According to a recent study by the Colorado Department of Transportation study, only about 61 percent of teens in this part of the state wear seat belts.

Eagle County wasn’t measured in the study, but in neighboring Routt County, more than 80 percent of teens wear their seat belts. On a recent afternoon at Battle Mountain, Vanessa Aguilar was the only student who doesn’t wear a seat belt who was willing to stop and talk about the subject.”I just don’t like wearing it,” she said. “I know I should wear it, but I don’t feel comfortable.”===============By the numbers

79 percent of Colorado adults buckle up70 percent of Colorado teens use seat belts60 percent of teens killed in auto accidents last year weren’t wearing seat belt61 percent of Western Slope teens wear seat belts*According to the Colorado Department of Transportation

=================Staff Writer Scott N. Miller can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14624, or Daily, Vail Colorado

Support Local Journalism