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RBC I Beginning Monday, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and 65 law enforcement agencies throughout Colorado are joining the nationwide Click It or Ticket May Mobilization effort to increase education and enforcement of seat belt laws.
Colorado’s efforts coincide with a national Click It or Ticket mobilization that focuses on the increased Memorial Day weekend travel.
“Memorial Day weekend kicks off the summer vacation season, and we expect high numbers of people traveling our roadways,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “We want to ensure that everyone gets to their destination safely, and if that means we have to ticket them for not wearing a seat belt, we are more than willing to do so.”
Of the 327 motor vehicle fatalities in 2013 (not including motorcycles and pedestrians), more than half of them (180) were not wearing their seat belt, with 49 percent (88) of the unbuckled fatalities being alcohol-related
Colorado focuses its efforts on males who drive pickup trucks, as they are the most likely to not buckle up. Last year, men accounted for 68 percent of the unbuckled fatalities.
“While the May Mobilization effort focuses on Memorial Day weekend travel, we want this enforcement period to serve as a reminder that wearing your seat belt is the simplest way to protect yourself while driving, especially against drunk drivers,” said Darrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety at the Colorado Department of Transportation. “We want motorists to know that law enforcement is out citing those who are unbuckled year round. I’d hope people would much rather put $65 toward their vacation than paying off a ticket.”
According to new data released from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motor vehicle fatalities are increasing nationwide for the first time in five years. In 2012, 10,335 people who were killed in motor vehicle crashes were not wearing their seat belts, with the majority of fatalities occurring at night. Colorado law enforcement will be working to keep fatality numbers down by enforcing seat belt laws, with a heavy focus on the counties that had higher numbers of unrestrained fatalities — El Paso (23), Jefferson (15), Weld (13) and Adams (12).
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. Click It or Ticket enforcement focuses on speeding and aggressive drivers. Drivers who are stopped for a traffic violation and are not using a seat belt will be ticketed. The minimum fine is $65.
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 primary enforcement, meaning teens can be pulled over simply for not wearing a seat belt or having passengers without seat belts.
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 2012, seat belts saved an estimated 12,174 lives nationwide. An additional 3,031 lives could have been saved if all unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants five and older involved in fatal crashes had been properly restrained.