69 Children Were Unbuckled
Last year, unbuckled fatalities accounted for nearly half of the passenger vehicle traffic deaths in Colorado. In response to particularly low seat belt use rates in rural areas, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement agencies recently conducted Click It or Ticket heightened seat belt enforcement in rural counties across the state.
A total of 57 law enforcement agencies participated in the campaign. These agencies issued 1306 citations for unbuckled passengers and drivers between March 27 and April 2, a decrease from the 1,605 citations issued during last year's enforcement. The tally includes 69 drivers who were ticketed for not buckling children under 16 years old. Specifically, this included 18 toddlers not in car seats, 24 children not in booster seats, and 27 children not wearing seat belts.
"Seat belts are the primary solution to prevent the increasing number of passenger vehicle traffic deaths in Colorado," said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "Driving slow or just a short distance doesn't make wearing a seat belt any less important -- even crashing at 25 mph is like falling from a second-story window."
Agencies that issued the most tickets were Colorado State Patrol troops (743 citations), Sterling Police (49 citations), Eagle County Sheriff (39 citations), Arapahoe County Sheriff (34 citations), and Alamosa Police (34 citations). A complete list of results for each county is available at http://apps.coloradodot.info/trafficsafety/SeatBelts/index.cfm (select "Seat Belt Grantees Only").
Fines for not buckling up start at $65, and parents or caregivers caught with an improperly restrained child can receive a minimum fine of $82.
"A ticket for being unbuckled is a reminder that seat belts are critical to every person's safety on the road," said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of CSP. "We hope the people cited in this enforcement make the positive change to buckle up in the future."
The Click It or Ticket campaign will return for the May Mobilization enforcement beginning May 22 to June 4. Last year, nearly 6,000 unrestrained drivers were cited throughout the state.
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 2015, seat belts saved an estimated 13,941 lives nationwide, including 200 in Colorado. An additional 60 lives could have been saved in Colorado if all unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants 4 and older involved in fatal crashes had been properly restrained. Last year, 180 unbuckled drivers and passengers were killed in Colorado, accounting for nearly half of all passenger vehicle traffic crashes. For more information about seat belt safety and enforcement citation numbers, visit SeatBeltsColorado.com.