Seatbelt safety is one of those things that every driver—and most passengers—know about, but may rarely practice when they’re in the car. Although all driving safety courses and campaigns stress the importance of a seatbelt as the “first defense” against injury in the event of an accident, many people do not follow state laws and requirements, choosing to leave their seatbelts off or by not enforcing the rules for their passengers when they are behind the wheel.
To emphasize just how important seatbelts are for drivers and passengers, Colorado launched a heightened enforcement campaign last month throughout the state. The campaign, called “Click it or Ticket,” was designed to raise awareness and increase penalties for those who do not follow the law, and it ran concurrently with the May Mobilization enforcement period headed up by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
According to the state’s Graduated Drivers Licensing Law (GDL), any driver aged 18 or under is required to wear a seatbelt and can face a minimum fine of $65 for not wearing one. This is a primary enforcement law, which means that teen drivers of any age can be stopped simply for failing to wear a seatbelt, or because their passengers are not wearing seatbelts. No other traffic offense needs to be cited.
The state’s “secondary enforcement law” mandates that drivers 18 and over can only be fined for failing to wear a seatbelt if they have been pulled over for another traffic violation or offense. The Click it or Ticket campaign targeted drivers who were speeding or behaving aggressively, checking to see if they were wearing seatbelts while ticketing for those offenses.
Children in vehicles must also wear their seatbelts at all times, no matter how old the driver is. This law is primary enforcement as well and goes hand-in-hand with the state’s child safety laws so that officers can stop and ticket drivers if any of the passengers are under the age of 16 and are not safely restrained either by a seatbelt or car seat when appropriate.
Last year, over 150 car accident victims in Colorado were not wearing their seatbelts at the time of their accidents. That number makes up more than half the passenger fatalities in car accidents statewide last year. Over the last 4 years, however, seatbelt use has hovered around 80 percent, with an all time high of 82.9 percent.
The national average is 87 percent usage and state officials hope that the Click it or Ticket campaign will promote use and push the state’s average closer, if not over, the national numbers.
At Levine Law, our attorneys represent anyone who has been injured as a result of another driver’s negligence in a car accident or collision. For more information regarding state laws, seatbelt requirements and liability, contact an attorney at our Denver car accident law firm today.