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County agencies to participate in Click It or Ticket campaign

In an effort to increase seat belt use and save lives on rural Colorado roadways, the Colorado State Patrol and 29 rural law enforcement agencies in 49 counties — including Archuleta County — are mobilizing for a Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement period, April 2-8.

The enforcement is combined with a seat belt education campaign, aimed at dispelling the myths and excuses people make for not buckling up.

“We are enforcing seat belt laws in our rural communities because we know seat belts save lives, and we care about the public’s safety,” said Col. James Wolfinbarger, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Crashes on rural roadways represented over half of the state’s fatalities in 2011. We would much rather write a citation than notify a loved one of death that could have been avoided if they had simply buckled up.”

In 2011, 187 people were killed in crashes on rural roadways, representing 60 percent of the state’s total fatalities. And more than half (58 percent) of those killed in rural areas were not wearing a seat belt, compared to 34 percent in urban areas.

One of the biggest reasons people give for not buckling up is that they aren’t traveling very far. The reality is that 85 percent of crashes occur within five miles of a person’s home. Others say they simply forget to buckle up because they never developed the habit.

Drivers of pickup trucks have the lowest overall seat belt use at just 70 percent, compared to 82 percent in cars. Last year 67 percent of people killed in pickup trucks in Colorado did not wear a seat belt. Pickup trucks are twice as likely to roll over in a crash, despite the belief that they are safer vehicles.

Seat belt use saves thousands of lives in Colorado and across America each year. Statistics show that in 2010 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 12,546 lives nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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