The Colorado State University Police Department will join more than 13,000 law enforcement agencies in the national Click It or Ticket Mobilization, a stepped-up seat belt enforcement campaign that runs from Nov. 17-30.
Although the seat belt use rate in Colorado increased as a result of this May’s seat belt crackdown, many people are still driving unbuckled and breaking the law. This November’s crackdown will target teenagers and young adults, who are most likely to ride unbuckled.
"Failure to wear a seat belt is against the law in this state. We enforce this law because it’s the best-proven way to save lives. If you won’t buckle up to save your life, then buckle up to save yourself a ticket," said Colorado State University Chief of Police Dexter Yarbrough.
The message to young adults will be seen and heard in Internet chat rooms, over public address systems in high schools and on college campuses, in athletic stadiums and through enforcement in locations where young people congregate – such as high schools and shopping malls.
"The only proven way to get significant increases in belt use among young people and ultimately save lives is through enforcement," said Yarbrough. "Young adults are killed at far higher rates in crashes because they are caught in a lethal intersection of inexperience, risk-taking and low safety belt use. These tragedies are predictable and therefore preventable."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, 5,341 teens aged 16-20 died and hundreds of thousands more were injured in traffic crashes in 2001. Fatality rates for young adults are twice that of older drivers and the risk of crashes for young adults is four times that of older drivers. Two out of five deaths among young adults are the result of traffic crashes. In 2000, the estimated economic impact of police-reported crashes involving drivers between 15 and 20 years of age was $32.8 billion.
"While national seat belt use is at an all-time high of 79 percent, we know the remaining 21 percent who don’t wear their seat belts are disproportionately teens and young men from 18-34 years old. And at 69 percent belt use rate, restraint use for young adults aged 16-24 continues to lag behind the rest of population," said Yarbrough.
During the national Click It or Ticket Mobilization, officers will intensify enforcement of safety belt laws and child passenger safety laws by informing motorists of the law and educating them about the dangers of not wearing seatbelts. Drivers failing to restrain themselves and their child passengers may be ticketed according to the law.
This mobilization relies on periods of intense enforcement of seat belt laws coupled with media outreach to let people know about the enforcement. For many non-seat belt users and especially young people, the threat of a ticket has proven to be a greater inducement to buckle up than the threat of injury or death. Colorado law requires that motorists be stopped for a violation other than not wearing a safety belt before being cited for such.
"We want to reach those least likely to buckle up and most at-risk to die," said Chuck Hurley, executive director of the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign.
The mobilization is conducted twice yearly by the Air Bag and Seat Belt Safety Campaign of the National Safety Council in conjunction with law enforcement agencies, state highway safety offices, NHTSA and the National Transportation Safety Board. The mobilization is also part of Buckle Up America, an ongoing NHTSA initiative to increase belt use and save lives.
"This year, nearly 8,000 Americans – adults and children – will die in crashes because they failed to buckle their seat belts," said Yarbrough. "Traffic fatalities, especially among teens and young adults, are an ongoing tragedy we must do something about and that is why we’ve joined this effort. We want members of the university community and especially our young adult students to make wise choices. Wearing a seat belt is a wise choice."