Courtesy Colorado Department of Transportation
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement agencies across the state are concluding a seven-day high-visibility Click It or Ticket enforcement period targeting rural areas of Colorado. These areas tend to have the lowest seat belt use rates in the state.
Currently, Colorado's statewide seat belt use rate is 84 percent, ranking Colorado in the bottom third in the nation. According to a 2017 CDOT study, the four Colorado counties with the lowest seat belt use were all rural - La Plata (74 percent); Montezuma (74.4 percent); Cheyenne (75.2 percent); and Mesa (75.5 percent).
These rates are well below the national average for seat belt use of 90 percent.
"Wearing a seat belt can easily become a matter of life or death," said Darrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "It is the easiest way to protect yourself in a crash and can greatly enhance your chances of surviving."
There were 233 unbelted deaths in passenger-vehicle crashes last year in Colorado - accounting for half of the 437 total passenger vehicle fatalities in 2017. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that about 60 lives could be saved every year in Colorado if everyone buckled up.
In 2017 there were 28 fatalities in Weld County among people who were not buckled up. This represented more than 50 percent of the total passenger vehicle fatalities (58) in that county for the year. Weld County has the second highest number of unbuckled fatalities of all counties in Colorado. El Paso County had the most, with 33 fatalities.
"Buckling your seatbelt should be the first thing you do when you get into a vehicle," said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol.
"The purpose of these enforcement periods is to make sure drivers and passengers get into the habit of using their seat belts every trip, no matter how short. It's a habit that might just save your life."
Here is a summary of 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.Fines for not wearing a seat belt start at $65, and parents and caregivers found with an improperly restrained or unrestrained child can receive a minimum fine of $82. Learn more about Click It or Ticket and Colorado's seat belt laws at codot.gov/safety/seatbelts-carseats.