Steamboat police to participate in Click It or Ticket program this week

Grant funds statewide seat belt campaign

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More information about car seat laws is at www.carseatscolorado.com.

— For the next seven days, local law enforcement agencies will be participating in a national program encouraging drivers and their passengers to buckle up.

A $600 grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will allow a Steamboat Springs Police Department officer to work overtime for a couple of hours each day to enforce seat belt laws as part of the Click It or Ticket program, Sgt. Rich Brown said. The Colorado State Patrol also will assign troopers to work overtime shifts.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation, an average of 180 people are killed each year because they were not buckled up or restrained in a child safety seat. Since Colorado began participating in Click It or Ticket in 2002, seat belt use has increased from 72 percent to 81 percent.

Failure to wear a seat belt is not a primary traffic violation, meaning an officer cannot stop a vehicle solely for that reason. Officers must have some other reason to stop a driver, Brown said.

“You could be cited for the primary violation and the seat belt violation,” he said.

Steamboat police can issue a $50 ticket to people not wearing a seat belt.

The Click It or Ticket campaign also focuses on children buckling up or being restrained. Effective Aug. 1, the state expanded the age range by two years and now says all children ages 4 to 7 need to be in a booster seat. According to CDOT, children ages 4 to 7 who use booster seats are 45 percent less likely to be injured in a crash compared to children who are restrained only by seat belts.

Infants younger than 1 must ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat of a car. Once they turn 1 and weigh at least 20 pounds, the law states front-facing car seats can be used.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the American Academy of Pediatrics recently has advocated for children remaining in rear-facing seats until they are 2.

“The state has taken a big step forward in protecting kids from serious crash injuries that result from wearing seat belts that were simply not designed to protect small bodies,” Colorado State Patrol Col. James Wolfinbarger said in a news release.

— To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com

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