Seat belt program clicks with state patrol
Colorado’s Click It or Ticket campaign was a success, transportation officials deemed after authorities issued more than 10,000 tickets for seat-belt violations.A decrease in fatal auto wrecks and an increase in seat-belt use also encouraged the Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol, which organized the campaign.The campaign started May 22 and ended June 4, with 10,158 tickets in that two-week span. Of those tickets, 91 percent went to adults violating the seat-belt law and 9 percent for violations of laws requiring safety seats, booster seats and seat belts for children younger than 16.”We do a lot of work in our campaigns to have children buckle up,” CDOT spokeswoman Mairi Nelson said.Colorado’s campaign was part of a program involving all 50 states to encourage motorists to buckle up. Nelson said there are no immediate plans for another similar campaign, but officers will continue to keep an eye out for violators.Since the campaign, Nelson said, seat-belt use in Colorado increased from 72 percent to nearly 80 percent. And fatalities are down 18 percent, with 187 through May, from 229 during the same period in 2005.”The higher we can increase seat-belt use, the more we can see those fatalities decrease,” Nelson said. Research shows that half of those killed in car crashes weren’t wearing a seat belt and would have survived if they had buckled up, she said.Failure to wear a seat belt is a secondary offense for adults, meaning law enforcement officers must pull over a vehicle for another offense, such as speeding. But if kids aren’t properly buckled, that’s a primary offense that could get a driver pulled over.Children are required to wear seat belts until age 15. Additionally, kids up to 6 years old or 55 inches tall must use a booster seat; they must be in a forward-facing car seat until they are 4 years old or weigh 40 pounds; and must be in a rear-facing car seat until they are a year old or weigh 20 pounds.The Aspen Police Department and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office were not involved in the Click It or Ticket campaign. Representatives from both departments said they deal with seat-belt offenses when a driver has already been pulled over for something else. Tom Grady, director of operations for the sheriff’s office, added that wearing a seat belt has always been especially important on Highway 82. Many of the deadly accidents he’s seen on that road were because people weren’t wearing seat belts.”People with seat belts have a much higher survivability,” Grady said.Glenn Schaffer, assistant chief at the Aspen Police Department, said an important aspect of police outreach is making sure people install child car seats properly. Many people do so incorrectly, he said, but the department has a certified officer on staff who can show people how to do it right.Greg Schreier’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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