Roads typically becoming busier during the holidays, as people are traveling to see loved ones. While travel may not be as prevalent during this year’s COVID-19 pandemic, CDOT officials are still reminding motorists to buckle up as the annual Click It or Ticket campaign is currently in full force.
CDOT, the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and 29 local law enforcement agencies throughout the state began the two-week Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement period Monday and it’ll run through Nov. 29.
“With the holiday travel season approaching, one of the safest choices is to stay home to help limit the spread of COVID-19,” said CDOT Director Shoshana Lew. “If you are traveling by car, whether you’re a driver or passenger, making the quick decision to buckle up is a lifesaving decision.”
So far in 2020, 299 people in passenger vehicles have been killed in crashes on Colorado roads. Of those, 160 fatalities (54 percent) involved unbuckled drivers or passengers even though they represent just 14 percent of vehicle occupants, according to a recent CDOT survey on seat belt usage. Colorado’s seat belt use rate is 86 percent, which is below the national average of 90 percent.
In 2019, 196 unbuckled drivers and passengers were killed in crashes in the state, accounting for more than half of the 377 total passenger vehicle deaths.
From 2015-19, Denver County had 60 unbuckled fatalities, accounting for over half of the 108 total passenger vehicle deaths. Fortunately, Denver County’s seat belt use rate has improved to 93 percent, one of the highest in the state, according to officials.
An average of an additional 70 lives could be saved each year if Colorado achieved an 100-percent seat belt use rate, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
“The Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement serves as a reminder to always buckle up," said Chief Matthew Packard of the Colorado State Patrol. "Your state troopers want every driver and passenger to reduce the risk of serious injury, vehicle ejection or death in the event of a collision on our Colorado roadways. Every citation issued could be a life saved.”
The seat belt enforcement efforts support CDOT's Whole System — Whole Safety initiative and the agency’s vision to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on our roadways.
The four counties with the lowest in seat belt use rates are all rural — Chaffee, Weld, Pueblo and Cheyenne. All four also recorded lower rates in 2020 than in 2019. During the most recent Click It or Ticket enforcement period in July, 1,839 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.
From 2013-17, 30 children from infants to age 8 were killed in passenger vehicle crashes in Colorado. Among these, more than half were in an improperly used or installed car seat — or no car seat at all. Parents and caregivers can learn more about Colorado child passenger safety laws, recommendations and recalls at carseatscolorado.com.
Click It or Ticket is a nationwide campaign from NHTSA. Since Click It or Ticket was introduced in Colorado in 2002, statewide seat belt use has increased from 72 percent to 86 percent. For more information about seat belt safety and enforcement citation numbers, visit seatbeltscolorado.com.
LIZARD HEAD WORK
This week, CDOT performed the final installation of components for the remotely controlled avalanche mitigation equipment above Highway 145 on Lizard Head Pass, about 1 mile north of Rico. On Wednesday afternoon travelers, both northbound and southbound, encountered periodic highway closures. The full traffic stops were required to facilitate helicopter operations and system testing.