Results of a 2022 Colorado statewide survey show that Chaffee County came in second place in a recent seat belt survey – that is, the second worst rating of seat belt usage in Colorado.
Pueblo came in No. 1 for the worst of Colorado with 67.6 percent of the population of 167,412 using seat belts.
With a population of 19,977, 69.2 percent of Chaffee County drivers use seat belts.
Seat belts save lives, Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze said. “It’s a proven thing; if you are in a wreck they keep you from being ejected.” Additionally, if you are driving a vehicle with airbags the seat belt prevents additional injury.
Salida Police Chief Russ Johnson said wearing seat belts on the highway is important because of high speeds and the damage that can come from a crash, but wearing them in town is even more important.
Johnson said in a town setting, there are a lot more obstacles such as other vehicles, intersections, people on their phones or otherwise not paying attention, including pedestrians.
“Minor crashes can become severe when people are not wearing seat belts,” he said.
Johnson said SPD had received a Click It or Ticket grant and is participating in the enforcement period.
Colorado State Patrol and 46 participating law enforcement agencies through Colorado started the May Mobilization seat belt enforcement period May 15, and it will continue through June 4.
In addition, heightened DUI enforcement also started May 16 and includes 68 law enforcement agencies.
Last year 2,755 drivers across Colorado were issued seat belt citations during Click It or Ticket enforcement periods.
Fines for not buckling up start at $65, and parents or caregivers caught with an improperly restrained child can receive a minimum fine of $82.
Most people killed in traffic crashes are not wearing seat belts.
Last year 236 unbelted vehicle occupants were killed in Colorado.
Also many people wrongly believe they are safer in the back seat, which is why seat belt use tends to be lower in that seating position.
Colorado law only requires adults to buckle up in the front seats.
During the May 2022 seat belt enforcement, 1,872 unbuckled passenger vehicle occupants were issued citations statewide. Of these occupants, 29 were unrestrained children.
Vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. Last year, out of more than 5,000 car seat checks performed in Colorado, there was a 66 percent misuse rate.
Parents and caregivers can learn more about Colorado child passenger safety laws, recommendations and recalls at CarSeatsColorado.com.
Colorado’s seat belt laws
Adults – Colorado has a secondary enforcement law for adult drivers and front-seat passengers. Drivers can be ticketed for violating the seat belt law if they are stopped for another traffic violation.
Teens – Colorado’s Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) law requires all drivers younger than 18 and their passengers, regardless of their age, to wear seat belts.
This is a primary enforcement, meaning teens can be pulled over simply for not wearing a seat belt or having passengers without seat belts.
Children – Colorado’s Child Passenger Safety law is a primary enforcement, meaning the driver can be stopped and ticketed if an officer sees an unrestrained or improperly restrained child younger than age 16 in the vehicle.
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