Heightened Seat Belt Enforcement Begins Today Statewide

May 11, 2015 - Traffic Safety - 8,044 Citations Given During 2014 Enforcement.

STATEWIDE — Last year, 156 people in Colorado that lost their lives in crashes weren't wearing a seat belt. Those lives account for over half of the 308 passenger vehicle fatalities that occurred on Colorado roadways in 2014.  

In a continued effort to keep motorists safe and move Colorado toward zero deaths, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement agencies are mobilizing a statewide Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement period, running from Monday, May 11, through Sunday, May 31. The heightened seat belt campaign coincides with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) nationwide May Mobilization enforcement period.

“Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer travel, so with more people hitting the roadways, this is the perfect time to reinforce the importance of always wearing a seat belt, no matter how far you’re traveling,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “The fact is, seat belts save lives, and officers will ticket you if you are stopped while not wearing your seat belt.” 

During the 2014 Click It or Ticket May Mobilization enforcement period, 8,044 Colorado motorists were cited for driving without a seat belt, a decrease from the 9,355 citations handed out in 2013. CDOT hopes the downward trend continues as more Coloradans buckle up.

“Between 2010 and 2014, statewide seat belt usage has ranged from 80.7 percent to 82.9 percent, with Colorado hitting 82.4 percent usage in 2014,” said Darrell Lingk, Director of the CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety. “For 2015, we are striving to reach 84 percent seat belt usage or better, but still have plenty of work to do before we reach the national average of 87 percent.”

Motor vehicle traffic crashes are a leading cause of death for Coloradans. Studies show that seat belts reduce serious injuries and deaths in crashes by about 50 percent. States with primary seat belt laws have seat belt use rates that are 13 to 16 percent higher than states with secondary laws. Colorado is a secondary law state.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention motor vehicle crashes cost Colorado more than $623 million each year in medical expenses and work loss costs.

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. 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. The minimum fine is $65.
  • Teens – Colorado’s Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) law requires all drivers under 18 and their passengers, no matter what 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 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.

In 2013, seat belts saved an estimated 12,584 lives nationwide. An additional 2,800 lives could have been saved if all unrestrained passenger vehicle occupants five and older involved in fatal crashes had been properly restrained. For more information about seat belt safety and enforcement citation numbers, visit www.SeatBeltsColorado.com.