Colorado Targets Rural Seat Belt Enforcement
Because seat belt usage rates in rural Colorado communities are some of the lowest in the state, the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado State Patrol, and local police are conducting a rural “Click It or Ticket” enforcement period July 18-24.
Seat Belt Use Low in Colorado
According to CDOT, a 2015 survey showed that three of the state’s rural counties had among the lowest seat belt usage: Baca (67.1%), Delta (70.8%), and Montrose (75.5%).
Drivers and passengers who are wearing seat belts have 45% less risk of being killed in traffic accidents. If a vehicle crashes, anyone who is not wearing a seat belt can become a projectile, critically injuring him or herself and others. In fact, rear-seat passengers who are not wearing seat belts have a 137% greater chance of being killed in a crash.
There is a 30% greater chance that a person who is not buckled in will be thrown from a vehicle in a crash, in CDOT’s words, “one of the most lethal outcomes of crashes.”
Safety Is Goal of Enforcement Period
Darrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT, said:
We hope these enforcements remind rural communities that whatever the excuse may be, there is no acceptable reason for not buckling up.
And Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, says the goal of the enforcement period is to make sure that everyone on the road is safe: “Refusing to buckle up does not just affect you — you also put those around you at risk.”
The Journal-Advocate wrote last month that statistics from CDOT’s May 23 to June 5 “Click It or Ticket” enforcement period were “startling” and “frightening.” That campaign, which ran statewide, resulted in 5,983 seat belt citations, including 295 for unrestrained or improperly restrained children under age 15.
In 2014, an estimated 12,802 lives were saved nationwide thanks to seat belts, including 169 in Colorado. However, it’s estimated that 63 people age 5 and older who lost their lives in vehicle crashes could have been saved had they been wearing seat belts.
What Is Secondary Enforcement?
In Colorado, there is a secondary enforcement law for adults drivers and front-seat passengers, which means drivers can be ticketed for not wearing seat belts only if they are stopped for another traffic violation.
The law also specifies that drivers under 18 and their passengers of any age must wear seat belts. This is a primary enforcement law, meaning that law enforcement officers can stop teen drivers directly for violating the seat belt law or for having passengers who are not buckled up. The Colorado law for children under 16 also is a primary enforcement law.
The fines for not wearing a seat belt in Colorado start at $65. The minimum fine for parents or caregivers who are caught with an improperly restrained child is $82.