2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Rural drivers target of seat belt campaign

Published: April 1, 2014, 11:03 pm, by Garrison Wells

Drivers on rural roads beware.

There’s a target on your back, especially if you tend to drive without a seat belt.

The Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol and 28 rural law enforcement agencies throughout the state are taking part in Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement period, which started May 31.

The program runs until April 7.

The increased enforcement includes a seat belt education campaign targeting rural drivers, who have the lowest seat belt use rate in the state.

In 2013, there were 178 unbuckled fatalities in Colorado, with 59 percent occurring on rural roadways, according to CDOT.

Of the 105 in rural Colorado, 72 percent were male and nearly 30 percent of them were driving a pickup. Seventy percent of drivers were either fully or partially ejected from their vehicles.

The counties that experienced the most unbuckled fatalities in 2013 were El Paso (11), Weld (9) and Lincoln (7).

During the 2013 rural Click It or Ticket period, 1,538 seat belt violations were cited, with 88 percent going to adults over the age of 21.

“Many drivers don’t buckle up because they never developed the habit or because they don’t think they will be in an accident,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol.

“One thing drivers don’t think of is that wearing your seat belt is the best defense against other drivers. Maybe you won’t make a mistake and cause an accident, but do you really want to take the risk that no one else will?”

In 2012 seat belts saved an estimated 12,174 lives nationwide.

For more information on seat belt citation data online, please go to  www.SeatBeltsColorado.com and click on Seat Belt Enforcement Reporting in Quick Links.