A statewide seatbelt enforcement period is underway this week.
The Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies throughout Colorado will be cracking down on seatbelt use, targeting rural areas in the state. According to a release, rural areas typically have the lowest seatbelt use rates in the state.
CDOT says the current seatbelt use rate in Colorado is 84 percent, which ranks the state the third lowest in the nation. A study conducted by CDOT in 2017 revealed the four Colorado counties with the lowest seatbelt usage were in La Plata at 74 percent, Montezuma at 74.4 percent, Cheyenne 75.2 percent, and Mesa at 75.5 percent.
CDOT said this is well below the national seatbelt use average, which is 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.”
Reports show 223 unbelted deaths in passenger-car crashes last year in Colorado, which accounted for half of the 437 passenger vehicle fatalities in 2017. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that 60 lives could be saved every year if everyone in Colorado buckled up.
28 fatalities were reported in Weld County last year, making up for half of the total passenger vehicle fatalities in the county in 2017. CDOT said Weld County has the second highest number of unbuckled fatalities of all counties in Colorado.
El Paso County had the highest at 33.
“Buckling your seatbelt should be the first thing you do when you get into a vehicle,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the CSP. “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.”
Colorado 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.
CDOT said fines for not wearing a seatbelt start at $65, and parents and caregivers found with an improperly restrained or unrestrained child can receive a minimum fine of $82. To learn more about the Click or Ticket campaign, click here.