217 Citations Involved Unrestrained Children
Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to prevent serious injury or death in a crash. To help ensure drivers and passengers are buckled up this summer, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement agencies teamed up for a statewide Click It or Ticket May Mobilization effort from May 22 to June 4. Law enforcement agencies cited 5,505 drivers, a decrease from the 5,983 citations issued during last year's enforcement period.
Law enforcement also cited 217 drivers with an improperly restrained child. This includes failure to have children in an infant car seat, booster seat or seat belt. This is a primary law in Colorado.
"The protection provided by wearing a seat belt is crucial to your safety every single time you enter a vehicle," said Darrell Lingk, Director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "You wouldn't attempt to drive or ride in a car with flat tires or a compromised engine, and wearing a seat belt is just as important to your safety as proper vehicle equipment."
90 agencies participated in the heightened seat belt enforcement, with the Lakewood Police Department (410 citations), Thornton Police Department (404 citations) and Loveland Police Department (320 citations) recording the highest number of tickets. In addition, CSP cited 1733 drivers. Results for all 90 agencies across the state can be found at http://apps.coloradodot.info/trafficsafety/SeatBelts/index.cfm.
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.
"Vehicle traffic fatalities increase during summer months, so the May Mobilization enforcement period is a reminder for people to buckle up," said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of CSP. "Our priority is to ensure people are safe on Colorado roads and seat belt use is one of the biggest factors in doing so."
To raise awareness during the May Mobilization enforcement period, CDOT installed 60 wreaths along the roadside entrance to Bandimere Speedway to commemorate the 60 lives that could be saved annually if 100 percent of Coloradans wore a seat belt. Currently, only 84 percent of Coloradoans buckle up. The wreaths served as poignant reminders to race-viewing crowds that wearing a seat belt can be a matter of life and death.
CDOT also transformed seat belts into awareness ribbons for its creative campaign to accompany the enforcement period. The ribbons were placed over photos of severely wrecked vehicles from real Colorado crashes where the drivers and passengers survived because they were buckled. The images were featured on social media and at gas stations on pump toppers, pump handles and window clings. CDOT also aired radio spots throughout the enforcement period to remind travelers to buckle up.
The Click It or Ticket campaign will return for the July Rural enforcement beginning July 17 through July 23. Last year, nearly 1,165 unrestrained drivers were cited throughout the state during the July Rural enforcement.
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, regardless of 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 a 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 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. Learn more about seat belt safety and enforcement citation numbers at http://www.seatbeltscolorado.com/.