STATEWIDE — Today, the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado State Patrol and statewide law enforcement partners will begin the annual statewide May Mobilization Click It or Ticket (CIOT) campaign, kicking off the spring and summer driving seasons. This is the largest seat belt enforcement period of the year and runs from May 20 to June 2. The campaign supports CDOT’s Whole System Whole Safety initiative and the agency’s vision to reduce the number of deaths and injuries on our roadways. To date, traffic fatalities in Colorado are down 23 percent from last year.
In 2018, there were 220 unbuckled fatalities on Colorado’s roads, accounting for about half of the 416 total passenger vehicle deaths. After three years of decline in seat belt use in Colorado, there was a slight increase to 86 percent in 2018 – but well below the national average of 90 percent. Nationally Colorado ranks in the bottom third of states in seat belt use.
“If everyone wore their seat belt, an estimated 70 lives could have been saved in 2017,” said CDOT Director Shoshana Lew. “These losses impact whole families and entire communities, and no level of driving excellence on the road can protect you from the unexpected. Wearing a seat belt is the single most effective way to protect yourself in a crash.”
Along with the enforcement period, CDOT is expanding last year’s engagement with real Coloradans in PSA announcements to promote seat belt use. The goal of the campaign is to reduce and hopefully eliminate unbelted crashes, injuries and fatalities on Colorado roads by talking to people about why they choose to buckle up.
Last year, the Everyone Has a Reason to Buckle Up campaign engaged a sample of respected Coloradans — firefighters, nurses, military personnel and mothers among others. You can view these videos and images here. This year’s Reasons Road Trip will capture stories from Coloradans in Weld, Adams and El Paso counties — the counties with the highest number of unbuckled fatalities — about why they buckle up. CDOT’s goal is to share real stories that will encourage those who don’t buckle up to think of a reason to buckle up, and ultimately change their behavior. Coloradans can share their reasons for wearing a seat belt on CDOT’s webpage.
To kick off the increased enforcement, CDOT hosted an interactive press event at the Dairy Block in downtown Denver. At the event, the public was invited to participate in a seat-belt-themed photo booth housed in a Volkswagen van to capture their reasons why they buckle up. In addition, representatives from CDOT and law enforcement spoke briefly on the details of the enforcement period and emphasized the importance of using seat belts while driving.
“Buckling up is a choice you make every time you get into your vehicle,” said Col. Matthew Packard, chief of the CSP. “During this enforcement period, we hope people will look at this choice as one that can be life-changing. We see it every day — seat belts save lives.”
Fines for not wearing a seat belt start at $65, and parents and caregivers found with an improperly restrained or unrestrained child can receive a minimum fine of $82. In 2017 seat belts saved an estimated 229 lives in the state.
Last year, 5,678 tickets were issued to drivers or passengers for not wearing seat belts during the May Mobilization enforcement period, including 234 citations for unrestrained or improperly restrained children under the age of 15.
Click It or Ticket is a nationwide campaign from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which releases statistics on seat belt usage and fatalities annually. Since Click It or Ticket was introduced in Colorado in 2002, seat belt use in Colorado has increased from 72 percent to more than 86 percent in 2018.
The national Click It or Ticket awareness campaign coincides with Uber, the Governors Highway Safety Association and Volvo North America’s “Make it Click” campaign recognizing the 60th anniversary of the modern seat belt with an increased focus toward rear-belt use.