RBC I In an effort to increase seat belt use in rural communities, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and rural law enforcement agencies will launch a Click It or Ticket enforcement period in rural counties across the state.
The heightened patrol is set to run from Monday through April 3.
“CDOT data shows a clear pattern: unbelted drivers are more prevalent in rural towns and communities,” said Darrell Lingk, director of the CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety. “Therefore, this enforcement period focuses on those areas and will hopefully bring change and awareness on the importance of seat belt use.”
According to a 2015 CDOT survey, only 85.2 percent of Colorado drivers use seat belts. In rural areas, that drops to 83.8 percent. Consequently, unbuckled occupants are over-represented in the fatality data.
In 2015, there were 179 unbuckled fatalities, which accounted for 56 percent of all passenger vehicle traffic deaths for the year. The Colorado counties with the lowest usage rates are Baca (67.1 percent), Pueblo (70.8 percent) and Delta (70.8 percent).
Law enforcement cited 1,342 unbelted drivers during last year’s rural enforcement period. The enforcement resulted in an increased observed seat belt use by 5.2 percent in rural Colorado, from 76 percent before the enforcement period to 81 percent after. Even with the improvement, rural seat belt use was still below the state average.
Fines for not buckling up start at $65, and parents or caregivers caught with an improperly restrained child can receive a minimum fine of $82.
“Compounding one traffic violation like speeding or aggressive driving with not wearing a seat belt creates an incredibly dangerous situation,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Wearing a seat belt will not only save you money, but potentially your life.”
Colorado’s Seat Belt Laws: Adults—Colorado has a secondary enforcement law for adult drivers and front-seat passengers. Drivers can be ticketed for violating the seat belt law if they are stopped for another traffic violation; Teens—Colorado’s Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) law requires all drivers under 18 and their passengers, no matter what 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; and Children —Colorado’s child passenger safety law is primary enforcement, meaning the driver can be stopped and ticketed if an officer sees an unrestrained or improperly restrained child under age 16 in the vehicle.
In 2014, seat belts saved an estimated 12,802 lives nationwide, including 169 in Colorado. An additional 63 lives could have been saved in Colorado if all unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants five and older involved in fatal crashes had been properly restrained.
For more information about seat belt safety and enforcement citation numbers, visit SeatBeltsColorado. com.