Colorado State Patrol to take no-tolerance policy on seat belts |

Colorado State Patrol to take no-tolerance policy on seat belts

Reid Williams

SUMMIT COUNTY – Following a 20-year high in traffic deaths, Colorado State Patrol troopers are taking a zero-tolerance policy on seat belts into the most dangerous months for driving on the state’s highways.

Troopers began a week-long seat belt enforcement period Thursday, joining by 70 police and sheriff’s agencies around the state in the continuing “Click It or Ticket” campaign. Capt. Ron Prater of CSP’s Frisco Troop 6B said motorists who fail to buckle in “will be contacted, will get tickets, and they’ve been warned.”

In 2001, there were 736 accident fatalities around the state. According to the state patrol and Colorado Department of Transportation, 354 of those crash victims were not wearing seat belts. In contrast, Summit County has seen a decrease in fatal crashes over the past three years.

Summit County has had two fatal accidents this summer, both on Interstate 70 between Frisco and Copper Mountain. In both cases, the person who died was not wearing a seat belt, while other buckled passengers survived.

“Even on short trips it’s good to make it a habit,” Prater said. “And with the airbags we have these days – they come out so violently – they’re designed to be used in conjunction with a seat belt. You’re at an even greater risk with airbags and without a seat belt.”

Throughout the enforcement period, troopers and other police officers will target speeding and aggressive driving violations. Seat belt use is not considered a primary cause for a traffic stop in Colorado, but Prater said officers will be looking for seat belt usage. The minimum fine for an offense is $17.

Colorado law also requires children younger than age 4 and less than 40 pounds to ride in child safety seats. Children ages 4 to 15 must use car seats or seat belts, whether in the front seat or back seat. Violating the child safety seat law is a primary offense, meaning an officer needs no other reason to stop the car, and it comes with a $56 minimum fine.

A similar two-week enforcement period in May produced 4,354 tickets around the state.

“More and more, it’s zero tolerance,” Prater said. “A lot of people think it’s a personal rights issue; they don’t want the government to tell them to wear a seat belt. But it’s really a personal safety issue. We just want to save your life. Why not give yourself the greatest odds of survival?”

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