Enough is Enough - State Warns Drivers to Buckle Up & Drive Sober as Deaths Rise

June 1, 2012 - Traffic Safety - "Click It or Ticket" and "100 Days of Heat" continue.

Denver – The state’s traffic fatalities were up 19% during the first four months of 2012 compared to last year, according to preliminary data from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).  From Jan.1 through Apr. 30, 2012, there were 127 fatalities reported to CDOT. During the same time period in 2011, there were 103 traffic deaths. Information on seat belt use and impaired driving is not yet available for this year, but in 2011 41% of Colorado’s fatalities involved alcohol and 60% of vehicle occupants killed were not buckled up.

State officials are concerned that the current trend will end four straight years of declines and record-low fatalities in the state, not to mention the increased emotional toll caused by these crashes.

“These statistics aren’t just numbers -- they represent the lives of mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, friends and just this week, a police officer,” said Col. James Wolfinbarger, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “It’s time that Coloradans say ‘enough is enough’ and demand an end to impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding and aggressive driving.  It’s time we take responsibility to wear our seat belts, make sure our passengers do the same, and protect children in the proper car seat or booster seat.”

The national “Click it or Ticket” seat belt mobilization continues through the weekend, with 4,333 seat belt citations reported to CDOT so far by Colorado law enforcement agencies since the campaign began May 21st.  The number of citations is expected to increase sharply when reports are due next week.

The “100 Days of Heat” summer DUI crackdown launched over Memorial Day weekend with 479 DUI arrests reported to CDOT by 80 law enforcement agencies and the Colorado State Patrol.  The Denver Police Department reported the highest number of DUI arrests with 67, followed by Adams County Sheriff’s Office (33), Aurora Police Department (32), Colorado Springs Police Department (24), Larimer County Sheriff’s Office (17), CSP Troop 1-D Adams County (13), Lakewood Police Department (12), Northglenn Police Department (11), CSP Troop 2-B Colorado Springs (10), and Thornton Police Department (10).

Of the 479 DUI arrests, 34 were made at sobriety checkpoints.  More checkpoints are scheduled this month by Aurora, Westminster, and Lakewood police departments.  DUI enforcement will continue to remain high and ramp up even more leading up to the Fourth of July holiday.

“Each DUI arrest made and every seat belt citation written represents lives saved,” said Darrell Lingk, director of CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety. “Each one of us can do our part to save lives by making a choice to slow down, buckle up and drive sober.  We need to work together to make sure our friends and loved ones never drive impaired or get into a car with a driver who’s been drinking or taking drugs.  Take two seconds to buckle up, put the cell phone down and focus on driving.”

More details about DUI arrest results and enforcement plans for each agency can be found at www.HeatIsOnColorado.com.  And results of the Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement are available at www.SeatbeltsColorado.com.