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County has 22 unbuckled fatalities this year to date


Last updated 11/17/2020 at 3:45pm

Area law enforcement agencies have started a two-week effort to crack down on seat belt use. In El Paso County, officials are particularly concerned about the issue – having had 22 unbuckled fatalities so far this year.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) and 29 local law enforcement agencies throughout the state began the current Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement period on Monday; it will continue through Nov. 29.

El Paso County’s total of 22 unbuckled fatalities includes incidents from Jan. 1-Nov. 1, accounting for roughly 66 percent of the 33 total passenger vehicle deaths in the county this year. El Paso County’s seat belt use rate is 87 percent, down from 90 percent in 2019.

So far this year, 299 occupants in passenger vehicles have been killed in crashes on Colorado roads. Of those, 160 fatalities (54 percent) involved unbuckled drivers or passengers even though they represent just 14 percent of vehicle occupants, according to a recent CDOT survey on seat belt use. Colorado’s seat belt use rate is 86 percent, below the national average of 90.

In 2019, 196 unbuckled drivers and passengers were killed in crashes in the state, accounting for more than half of the 377 total passenger vehicle deaths.

“The Click It or Ticket high-visibility enforcement serves as a reminder to always buckle up,” said Chief Matthew Packard of the Colorado State Patrol. “Your State Troopers want every driver and passenger to reduce the risk of serious injury, vehicle ejection, or death in the event of a collision on our Colorado roadways. Every citation issued could be a life saved.”

About 70 lives could be saved each year if everyone in Colorado buckled up, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“With the holiday travel season approaching, one of the safest choices is to stay home to help limit the spread of COVID-19,” said CDOT Director Shoshana Lew. “If you are traveling by car, whether you’re a driver or passenger, making the quick decision to buckle up is a lifesaving decision.”


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