The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is ramping up its Click it or Ticket enforcement of seat belt laws during nighttime hours throughout the state this week, as CDOT announced on Monday. The seat belt crackdown will run through Sunday night, CDOT writes.
The department is partnering with the Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies to go after unbuckled drivers and passengers, inspired by the success of their successful May Mobilization enforcement, CDOT writes. Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol, explains why CDOT and CSP are focusing on nighttime hours for the enforcement period: “Unfortunately we often see people not using their seat belt at night, which is extremely dangerous given the reduced visibility and the presence of more impaired drivers.”
In 2014, of the 156 people killed in car accidents in Colorado, 156 were not wearing their seat belts, which is more than half of the total passenger vehicle fatalities for 2014, CDOT writes. There were 1,495 citations issued during 2014’s six-day nighttime enforcement period, CDOT writes. That statewide effort was composed of 281 officers from 42 agencies, CDOT writes. The largest number of citations were issued by the Aurora Police Department (159), Adams County CSP Troop 1-D (124), Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office (111) and Colorado Springs Police Department (109), CDOT writes.
CDOT writes about the importance of wearing seat belts:
‘Buckling your seat belt only takes a couple seconds and could potentially save your life,’ said Darrell Lingk, Director of the CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety. ‘Colorado has a seat belt use rate of 82 percent, which is below the national average of 87 percent. In our ongoing efforts to move Colorado toward zero deaths, increasing seat belt use will be critical in getting us there.’
CDOT is placing a special emphasis on Pueblo, as its seat belt use rate of only 63.4% is lower than that in all other Colorado counties, as Chris Loveless writes for KRDO.com. The department hopes to raise the rate of seat belt usage in Pueblo via safety messages on gas pumps, billboards, and in radio announcements, Loveless writes. “Taking into consideration that we often see more impaired drivers, injury and fatal crashes at night, it simply makes sense to take extra care to buckle up at night,” Troy Davenport, deputy chief of the Pueblo Police Department, told Loveless.
In Mesa County, authorities are hoping to raise the seat belt use rate as well, as there are not many people who wear seat belts there, either, as Colorado State Patrol Corporal Denny O’Leary told Melody Gonzales in her article for Western Slope Now. Gonzales notes that under Colorado’s secondary enforcement law, adult drivers and front seat passengers can be ticketed for not wearing seat belts only if police pull the car over for some other traffic violation. The minimum fine is 65 dollars, she adds. Click it or Ticket focuses on speeding and aggressive drivers, pulling them over for those violations and then ticketing them for seat belt violations if they are not wearing the belts, CDOT writes.
Colorado’s Graduated Drivers Licensing law requires all drivers under age 18 and their passengers of any age to wear seat belts. Because this is a primary enforcement law, authorities can stop these young drivers simply for seat belt violations, CDOT writes. The state’s child passenger safety law is also a primary enforcement law. That means authorities can pull the driver over and ticket him or her if there is an unrestrained or improperly restrained child under age 16 in the vehicle, CDOT writes.