Over 1,000 Rural Drivers Fined for Going Beltless

65 children were not buckled up

From July 17-23, 2017, CDOT, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local law enforcement agencies across the state issued 1,175 citations to unbuckled drivers and passengers during a weeklong Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement period targeting rural areas.

The total represents a slight increase from the 1,116 citations during the same enforcement last year. Rural areas of the state tend to have low seat belt use rates and a high number of unbuckled fatalities.

The citations include 65 drivers for having unbuckled children in their vehicle. A third (21) of those unbuckled children were younger than four.

"Buckling up is the easiest way to save a life in a crash," said Darrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "Don't hesitate to tell others in the car to buckle up; your chances of survival dramatically increase if you are buckled."

Fifty-six agencies and CSP troops participated in the CIOT enforcement campaign. The Steamboat Springs Police Department (51 citations), Eagle County Sheriff's Office (41) and Fort Lupton Police Department (37) issued the most citations. CSP totaled 719 citations, including Troop 4C in Glenwood Springs, which logged 198 citations to drivers.

Fines for not buckling up start at $65, and parents or caregivers caught with an improperly restrained child can receive a minimum fine of $82.

During the enforcement period, CDOT raised awareness about Weld County's seat belt crisis. Last year, 23 people died in unbuckled crashes in Weld County. That total was the highest in the state, including counties with much larger populations. The data also indicated that Weld County's unbuckled fatality rate is more than six times higher than Denver's rate.

CDOT held a press event at the start of the enforcement period that featured an 8-foot tall seat belt display, dubbed "Close the Gap," which represents last year's 23 unbuckled deaths in Weld County. The display used real seat belts and buckles to illustrate the "gap" between the belt and the buckle when drivers and passengers go beltless.

"Buckling your seat belt should be the first thing you do when you enter a car," said Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the CSP. "With less congestion [and] fewer cars on the road, rural drivers may think that they don't need to wear a seat belt. The reality is you never know when a crash can happen, no matter the distance you are driving."

In 2015, seat belts saved an estimated 13,941 lives nationwide, including 200 in Colorado. Last year, 180 unbuckled drivers and passengers were killed in Colorado, accounting for nearly half of all passenger vehicle traffic fatalities. Learn more about seat belt safety and enforcement citation numbers by visiting SeatBeltsColorado.com.

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.
  • Teens—Colorado's Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) Law requires all drivers younger than 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 younger than 16 in the vehicle.