Thu July 21, 2011

Seat Belt Usage is the Target of Week-long Crackdown

For the next week law enforcement officials in 11 Colorado counties will be stepping up enforcement of vehicle restraint laws; the overall goal is to get more people to buckle up.

Seat belt usage has been steadily increasing each year for more than a decade. But officials say there’s still a long way to go.  A May Click it or Ticket campaign resulted in 9,133 tickets for Colorado drivers – more than 100 of which were for unrestrained children.  Colorado Department of Transportation Spokeswoman Heather Halpape said this week’s enforcement campaign will focus on the nighttime.  The period between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. is when many unrestrained fatalities occur.

“A lot of that is because they’re more risky, at night there are more male drivers out, there may be alcohol involved, or people just have a false sense of security at night when there’s less traffic and they may just not think about putting on their seat belt,” said Halpape.

Last year 142 people died in crashes that occurred overnight – of that number 65% were not wearing seat belts. 

Officials say it’s a public safety issue, adding that seat belts double the chances of surviving a crash.

“Seat belts really make a difference. People who don’t buckle up are very likely to be ejected from a vehicle if it rolls, and it’s so important to stay in that vehicle to have a better chance of surviving and reducing injuries,” said Halpape. 

Not wearing a seat belt is a secondary offense in Colorado, meaning you can only be cited for non-compliance if pulled over for something else; though it is a primary offense for teen drivers and children.  The crackdown includes Boulder, Denver, Larimer and Weld Counties and runs through Wednesday. 

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