COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Starting this week, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol, and other local police agencies begin a two-week seat belt enforcement period -- and for good reason.
Unbuckled occupants in vehicles resulted in 22 fatalities in El Paso County so far this year. That accounts for roughly 66% of the 33 total passenger vehicle deaths in the county this year. El Paso County’s seat belt use rate currently sits at 87%; although that seems like a lot, that is still down from 90% in 2019.
Statewide, so far in 2020, 299 occupants in passenger vehicles have been killed in crashes on Colorado roads. Of those, 160 fatalities, or 54%, involved unbuckled drivers. That's an alarming number considering that non-buckled passengers represent just 14% of vehicle occupants, according to a recent CDOT survey on seat belt usage.
Sam Cole with CDOT said, “We are seeing a spike in traffic fatalities in El Paso County because of people who don’t buckle up. We are seeing a decline in the number of people who buckled up last year in El Paso county. We really want these trends to reverse.”
On average, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations, 70 lives could be saved each year if everyone in Colorado buckled up.
This enforcement effort marks CDOT''s first November Click it or Ticket enforcement period. During the most recent click it or ticket enforcement period back in July of this year, nearly 2,000 unrestrained drivers and passengers were issued citations across Colorado.
Fines for not buckling up in Colorado start at $65, and parents or caregivers caught with an improperly restrained child can receive a minimum fine of $82.