Saturation patrols to hit Summit roads
SUMMIT COUNTY – Look for a lot of police on Summit County roads starting Tuesday and going through the Memorial Day weekend as part of a concerted effort to reduce fatalities and accidents during the holiday period.
Colorado State Patrol Capt. Ron Prater said the state patrol, Sheriff’s Office and town police departments are cooperating on “Colorado Target Zero” and “Click It or Ticket.”
Saturation patrols will be on the lookout for intoxicated drivers, speeders and those breaking other motor vehicle laws. In the process, those not wearing seatbelts will be ticketed.
Prater, who oversees the state patrol in Summit, Park and Lake counties, said the focus will be on Interstate 70 and Highway 9, including the stretch north of Silverthorne heading to Grand County.
Patrols also will work Highway 6 and Highway 91.
“We are ramping up to put a lot of officers from many different agencies on the road with the goal of eliminating or greatly reducing traffic fatalities,” Prater said.
“We hope to increase awareness about making good choices when driving.”
The goal of “Click It or Ticket” is to raise the statewide seatbelt compliance percentage from 78 percent to 82 percent, the captain said.
A similar campaign last year raised compliance from 73.2 percent.
Prater said he has personally investigated many fatal accidents, and simple seatbelt use would have saved lives.
“There have been so, so many of them where very little damage occurred to the vehicle … which could have been driven away, but the occupant was dead because of not wearing a seatbelt,” Prater said.
He said unrestrained occupants can be ejected from a vehicle that is rolling over, and the vehicle rolls over them.
Other fatalities occur when ejected passengers become projectiles.
While adults have to be stopped for another violation before being ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt, the same is not true for adults who do not restrain young children.
If an officer observes a child up to age 4 unrestrained, that is grounds to stop the motorist, Prater said.
The law says children up to age 4 and less than 40 pounds must be in a child-restraint seat.
Booster seats are required for children up to age 6 and 55 inches tall.
After that, children must be restrained by seatbelts.
Prater said that if seatbelt compliance reaches 82 percent, statistics show that 22 lives would be saved, 270 serious injuries would be prevented and $65 million in annual medical costs would be avoided.
He attributed the decline in highway fatalities to 474 in 2003 compared to 578 in 2002 to better seatbelt use.
Police also will be looking for drivers under 17 who are violating the law by having more than one passenger in the front seat and more people in back seats than there are seatbelts.
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