Seat belt advocates: Cinch it up for safety |

Seat belt advocates: Cinch it up for safety

by Christine Dell'Amore
Post Independent Staff

Garfield County drivers may want to take those extra two seconds to buckle up this summer.

The Colorado Click it or Ticket campaign, which began Monday and continues through June 6, aims to reduce traffic deaths and injuries in the state by increasing regulation of state seat belt laws.

“Seat belts without a doubt, despite anybody’s arguments, save lives,” Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said Monday at a press conference at the Sheriff’s Office. The Colorado Department of Transportation and the Colorado State Patrol are sponsoring the Colorado component of the nationwide Click it or Ticket program.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 34 in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2003, the Colorado State Patrol reported 474 deaths from vehicle crashes, said Capt. Barry Bratt of the State Patrol.

Colorado enforcement agencies have educated residents about seat belt use through the state’s Do the Twist program, Vallario said. As a result, 78 percent of Colorado motorists used seat belts in 2003, an increase of 5 percent from 2002.

Two other campaigns, Target Zero and Checkpoint Colorado, will attempt to decrease motor vehicle fatalities.

Target Zero, which starts today and ends Monday, will increase the number of officers on the road writing tickets and issuing warnings.

“This ties into our long-term goal of reducing fatalities by 2025,” Bratt said.

Through the Checkpoint Colorado program, various municipal law enforcement agencies will position three checkpoints in the county to target drivers under the influence. Officers will act as saturation patrols during holiday weekends or events when there might be more drunken drivers on the road, said Chief Gene Schilling of the Carbondale Police Department.

“If you see more people at checkpoints getting stopped, the chances of you drinking and driving are going to become less likely,” Schilling said.

Bratt said that agencies are trying to bring awareness of vehicle safety to the community.

“Through enforcement and education, we want to create an atmosphere where people will drive safely,” he said.

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