Tuesday, August 2, 2016

1,144 Cited in Rural Seat Belt Enforcement

45 children improperly restrained

With the ongoing goal of improving seat belt use in Colorado, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) recently turned its focus to rural counties across the state. Along with the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement, CDOT led a rural Click It or Ticket enforcement period, from July 18 to 24, to remind rural communities that buckling up is crucial to the safety of all drivers and passengers. CDOT data shows that many rural areas consistently rank below state seat belt use averages.

Law enforcement cited 1,144 unbelted drivers and passengers, and 45 parents or caregivers for improper child restraint. CDOT is focusing this year on the message that unbuckled passengers are at risk of being ejected or of colliding with other passengers in the vehicle. Unbelted passengers increase the risk of serious injury or death to other occupants by 40 percent.

“Riding unbelted is extremely dangerous to everyone in a vehicle,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. “The benefits of seat belts are proven. CDOT’s goal for the enforcement periods is to remind people to buckle up — before they are injured, or even worse, killed.”

Fifty-eight agencies participated in the increased enforcement effort. The Colorado State Patrol (604), Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (39), Montrose Police Department (37) and the Montrose County Sheriff's Office (32) issued the most citations.

“With something as simple and effective as clicking a seat belt, there is no excuse to risk your life and endanger others,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of CSP. “We will continue to push seat belt use to help people avoid the consequences of not buckling up.”

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.
  • 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.