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Rural seat belt enforcement begins

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Seat belt usage rates for Colorado rural communities are some of the lowest in the state. In fact, according to a 2015 CDOT survey, three of the five lowest counties for seat belt use in Colorado are rural -- Baca (67.1 percent), Delta (70.8 percent) and Montrose (75.5 percent).

To improve road health in these rural counties, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and local police will conduct a rural Click It or Ticket enforcement period from July 18-24. Buckled motorists and passengers reduce their risk of death in traffic crashes by 45 percent.

"CDOT is committed to ensuring all Coloradans are aware of the benefits of seat belts and the severe risks of neglecting them," said Darrell Lingk, director of the Office of Transportation Safety at CDOT. "We hope these enforcements remind rural communities that whatever the excuse may be, there is no acceptable reason for not buckling up."

To directly reach rural communities, CDOT will be running a targeted social media campaign to encourage seat belt use. The videos in the campaign focus on a simple idea: friends and family tell you to buckle up because they care about your safety -- law enforcement does it for the same reason. View and download the videos at bit.ly/CIOTvideos.

In a crash, unbelted passengers can become projectiles and severely injure themselves and other occupants. Unbuckled passengers are also 30 times more likely to be ejected -- one of the most lethal outcomes of crashes. Unbelted rear-seat passengers increase the fatality risk for the driver by 137 percent.

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

"Motorists may find citations frustrating, but it's the best way for our officers to remind unbuckled motorists of the consequences of not wearing a seat belt in a crash," said Col. Scott Hernandez, Chief of the Colorado State Patrol. "The intention of the seat belt enforcement is to ensure the well-being of all people on the road. Refusing to buckle up does not just affect you -- you also put those around you at risk."

Colorado
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 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 2014, seat belts saved an estimated 12,802 lives nationwide, including 169 in Colorado. An additional 63 lives could have been saved in Colorado 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 SeatBeltsColorado.com.

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