COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Beginning Monday, May 16, Colorado Springs and state law enforcement agencies are focusing heavily on seat belts as the summer months approach. The enforcement period will last until Sunday, June 5. It's a campaign called the 'Click It or Ticket.'
According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), traffic fatalities have dramatically increased due to the high volume of passengers in Colorado, many fatalities are from those who are unbuckled.
CDOT says 232 of the passenger vehicle deaths were not wearing a seat belt last year. In nearly two decades, fatalities on Colorado roads have been the highest. During the summer months, over 150 traffic fatalities are reported on Colorado roads.
“We hear a lot of excuses when it comes to why people don't wear seatbelts, but I have one reason to buckle up that beats all of them,” said Col. Matthew C. Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Seat belts have been proven to save lives. There are a lot of factors out of your control when driving — but this isn’t one of them. Choose to buckle up every time."
Last year, El Paso County estimated 86% of passengers were wearing a seat belt, which is within the state's average. Although Colorado's seat belt average was above 80%, that's still below the national average of 90%, based on the recent State of Colorado Statewide Seat Belt Survey.
“Last year was a deadly and tragic year on Colorado roads. As a state, we have to do better,” said CDOT’s Office of Transportation Safety Director Darrell Lingk. “These enforcement periods are designed to keep drivers and passengers safe, but ultimately, it’s up to you to protect yourself — and we really hope you do.”
In 2021, CDOT says 2,994 unrestrained drivers were fined across Colorado during the enforcement periods. Passengers who are unbuckled can be fined a minimum of $65. An $82 fine will be issued to parents or caregivers if children are improperly restrained.
Seat belt laws in Colorado, according to CDOT
- 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, 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 under age 16 in the vehicle.