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When the Sun Goes Down, So Does Seat Belt Use

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According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, seat belt use is consistently lower at night than during the day, along with an increase in DUIs and other risky behavior.

In an effort to encourage nighttime seat belt use, CDOT, the Colorado State Patrol and law enforcement agencies around the state recently participated in “Click It or Ticket,” the yearly national seat belt education and enforcement campaign that focuses on speeding and aggressive drivers and seat belt use. Last year’s event resulted in 2,370 seat belt citations in Colorado.

But why do fewer people wear seat belts after dark? According to NBC, those who forego seatbelts at night are typically risk takers, people who regularly go through yellow lights and make a habit of driving over the posted speed limit.

More than two-thirds of young drivers and passengers between the ages of 16 and 20 who were killed in nighttime car accidents weren’t wearing seat belts. Experts say peer pressure plays a prominent role in avoiding seat belts, and the younger the driver the less likely they are to wear a seat belt.

Colorado Seat Belt Laws

In Colorado, adult drivers can be ticketed for violating the seat belt law if they are stopped for another violation (secondary enforcement), and the minimum fine is $65. All drivers under 18, including passengers, must wear seat belts and can be pulled over solely for not wearing seat belts or for having passengers that aren’t buckled up. A driver can also be stopped and ticketed if an officer observes an unrestrained or improperly restrained child under age 16 riding in the vehicle.

Besides the obvious safety benefits, seat belt use also saves money, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report that found that seat belt use has saved about $1.6 trillion in economic costs since 1975, while death and injuries resulting from non-use cost an estimated $14 billion each year in medical bills, lost wages, and other injury-related expenses.

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