Enforcement focuses on rural Colorado

Posted 2/19/09

Special to the News In an effort to increase seat belt use and save lives on Colorado's rural roadways, the Colorado State Patrol and 21 rural law …

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Enforcement focuses on rural Colorado


Special to the News

In an effort to increase seat belt use and save lives on Colorado's rural roadways, the Colorado State Patrol and 21 rural law enforcement agencies are stepping up seat belt enforcement Feb. 11-17. The Click It or Ticket campaign takes place in Alamosa, Bent, Delta, Elbert, Garfield, Gunnison, Huerfano, Kit Carson, Lincoln, Logan, Montezuma, Montrose, Morgan, Otero, Prowers, Washington, and Yuma counties.

“We're focusing our enforcement efforts in these rural counties because our studies indicate that seat belt use is very low in these areas," said Pamela Hutton, CDOT chief engineer and governor's representative for highway safety. "Living in a rural county myself, I know the sense of security rural drivers feel and the temptation not to wear a seat belt, but with more than half of Colorado's fatalities occurring in rural areas, it is extremely important to buckle up no matter where you drive."

Coloradans driving or riding on rural roadways face a much greater risk of being injured or killed than do those in urban or suburban areas. In 2007, 57 percent of traffic fatalities occurred in rural Colorado. One contributor to higher fatalities is a lower seat belt use in rural parts of the state. An observational seat belt study conducted in 2008 showed that seat belt use is lowest in eastern Colorado with only 77.4 percent of rural drivers and passengers buckling up. That compares to an 83.6 percent seat belt use rate along the urban Front Range. Seat belt use is 79.4 percent in the Western region of the state. The overall statewide seat belt use rate is 81.7 percent.

“We know that regular seatbelt use is the single most effective way to prevent injuries and death in a crash,” said Sheriff Gerry Oyen, Bent County Sheriff's Office. “Since I began my career in law enforcement 42 years ago, I've seen a drastic change in the effectiveness of seat belts and people's attitudes toward wearing them. Nowadays there's no excuse not to wear one. Our goal is to get more people buckled up in rural Colorado.”

Young males and pickup truck occupants are among those at greatest risk. In 2007, three-quarters of the unbuckled deaths were men, and nearly half of them were ages 18 to 34. Also in 2007, 73 people died in pickup trucks in Colorado, and 68 percent were not wearing seat belts. Only 70 percent of pickup truck drivers in Colorado wear seat belts. That compares to a 83.7 percent seat belt use rate for cars, 85.4 percent for vans and 84.9 percent for SUVs.

“Pickup trucks do not make you invincible. Studies show they are twice as likely as cars to roll over in a crash,” said Col. Mark Trostel, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "Develop the habit to take two seconds to buckle up yourself and your passengers. You'll avoid a ticket or much worse.”

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. Click It or Ticket enforcement focuses on speeding and aggressive drivers. Drivers who are stopped for a traffic violation and are not using a seat belt will be ticketed. Seat belt fines are $65 per violation.

Colorado's child-passenger safety law includes both primary and secondary enforcement. The infant seat, child safety seat and seat belt provisions of the law are primary enforcement, meaning the driver can be stopped and ticketed if an officer sees an unrestrained or improperly restrained child in the vehicle. The booster seat portion of the law is secondary enforcement. The child-passenger safety law clearly defines child safety seat and seat belt use from birth through age 15. The public can find more information about the law and assistance with using child safety seats and seat belts properly by visiting www.carseatscolorado.com The Colorado State Patrol and the following agencies and troops are participating in the Click It or Ticket enforcement:

  • CSP Troop 5B – Alamosa
  • Alamosa PD
  • CSP Troop 2C
  • Bent County SO
  • Las Animas PD
  • CSP Troop 5C – Delta
  • Delta County SO
  • CSP Troop 1A – Elbert
  • CSP Troop 4C – Garfield
  • Garfield County SO
  • Glenwood Springs PD
  • Silt PD
  • Gunnison County SO
  • Gunnison PD
  • CSP Troop 2D – Huerfano
  • Walsenburg PD
  • CSP Troop 3B – Logan
  • Logan County SO
  • CSP Troop 5A Montezuma
  • Cortez PD
  • Mancos PD
  • Montrose County SO
  • Fort Morgan PD
  • Brush PD
  • Manzanola PD
  • Rocky Ford PD
  • Washington County SO
  • Yuma PD


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