DENVER (CBS4) — Law enforcement agencies across Colorado will conduct targeted enforcement of seat belt use starting Monday, focusing on drivers in the state’s rural areas.
The “Click It or Ticket” campaign, coordinated between the Colorado Department of Transportation, the Colorado State Patrol and local police departments and sheriff’s offices, will last six days.
According to CDOT, about 72 percent of Colorado’s drivers were using their seat belts in 2002 when the first “Click It or Ticket” enforcement period was initiated. Last year, that rate had increased to 86 percent. But that is still below the national average of 90 percent.
Seat belt usage is more lax in rural areas. But the consequences are move severe, too, for accident victims in those areas, according to authorities.
“Hospitals are often few and far between in rural areas, so emergency vehicles have more distance to travel to help those involved in serious crashes,” said Col. Matthew Packard, CSP’s chief.
During last year’s spring enforcement period, 1,279 citations were issued to drivers in the state’s rural communities.
There are three “Click It or Ticket” enforcement periods each year.
“One of CDOT’s core values is safety, and seat belt use is crucial to keeping drivers and passengers safe on the roads,” said Darrell Lingk, director of CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety. “We hope the Click It or Ticket rural campaign will encourage people to buckle up, especially in areas with the most opportunity to increase usage rates and save lives.”
In 2018, 410 people died in passenger vehicle accidents statewide, per CDOT’s statistics. More than half (215) were unbuckled.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office stated in a press release Friday it received grant money to staff increased patrols in mountain communities – such as the Bergen Park area, downtown Evergreen, and Conifer – for its part of the enforcement effort.
Fines for not buckling up in Colorado start at $65, and parents or caregivers caught with an improperly restrained child can receive a minimum fine of $82.
Click It or Ticket is a nationwide campaign created by the Natioinal Highway Traffic Safety Administration.