Click it or Ticket posterColorado started a heightened seat-belt enforcement campaign Monday, called “Click it or Ticket,” according to news reports. The campaign runs through May 30, and coincides with the May Mobilization enforcement period of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s enforcement period, writes April Davis for KKCO11 News.

Last year, 156 people who died in Colorado car accidents were not wearing seat belts, which comprises more than half of the 308 passenger vehicle fatalities in the state in 2014, Davis writes. Colorado’s Graduated Drivers Licensing law (GDL) requires all drivers under 18 and their passengers of any age to wear seat belts, Davis adds. The minimum fine for violating that law is $65, Davis writes.

As the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Safety page says, seat belts save lives: “Regular seat belt use is the single most effective way to prevent serious injuries and save people from dying in motor vehicle crashes.” Memorial Day is May 25th, and that weekend marks the start of summer travel season, the perfect time to remind drivers of the importance of wearing seat belts. no matter how far or near they are traveling, according to the Colorado State Patrol, as Davis writes.

Between 2010 and 2014, seat belt usage in Colorado has ranged from 80.7% to a high of 82.9%; in 2014, it was 82.4%, according to a CDOT press release. Jesse Paul writes in the Denver Post that state officials are hoping that in 2015 Colorado reaches the national average, 87% seat belt use among drivers and passengers. But Darrell Lingk, director of the CDOT’s Transportation Safety, said, “[We] still have plenty of work to do before we reach the national average of 87%,” according to the press release. He said the state strives to reach at least 84% this year.

The CDOT press release says:

Motor vehicle traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for Coloradans. Studies show that seat belts reduce serious injuries and deaths in crashes by about 50 percent. States with primary seat belt laws have seat belt use rates that are 13 to 16 percent higher than states with secondary laws. Colorado is a secondary law state. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention motor vehicle crashes cost Colorado more than $623 million each year in medical expenses and work loss costs.

Under Colorado’s “secondary enforcement law” for adult drivers and front seat passengers, drivers 18 and over can only be ticketed for not wearing seat belts if they are stopped for another traffic violation, CDOT writes. Click it or Ticket enforcement pinpoints drivers who are speeding and/or aggressive, CDOT writes. Advocates for Highway & Auto Safety, a national coalition of insurance, consumer, health, safety and law enforcement organizations, has urged Colorado lawmakers to pass a primary enforcement seat belt law, as Jeffrey Leib has reported for the Denver Post.

The GDL law, covering teen drivers and their passengers of any age, is primary enforcement, which means teens can be stopped by authorities if they are not wearing seat belts or if their passengers are not wearing them, CDOT writes. The law governing children in vehicles is also primary enforcement, CDOT writes. Under the child passenger safety law, authorities can stop and ticket drivers if there are children under age 16 in the vehicle who are unrestrained or improperly restrained, CDOT writes.

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