Buckle up or fork it over

Police heighten focus on seat belts

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Lone Tree Police don’t want to write citations during their Click It or Ticket campaign; they just want drivers to wear their seatbelts.

“Our goal is not to issue tickets,” Sgt. Scott Cavenah said. “I’d rather stop 100 people and only write one ticket than stop 100 people and write 99.

“Our whole thing is about reducing driver and passenger fatalities and injuries. If we can get people to buckle up, it helps save lives.”

Lone Tree is among several law enforcement agencies that received a grant to step up enforcement during the May 20 to June 2 campaign.

“As we kick-off the busy summer driving season, it’s important that everyone buckles up every time they go out, both day and night — no excuses,” said Lone Tree Police Chief Jeff Streeter. “Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone who is not wearing their seat belt.”

The fine for a driver or passenger seat-belt citation is $35; for an unrestrained child, the fine is $100.

To prove officers are more interested in safety than citations, Lone Tree Police released a description of the cars it will use during the campaign and the streets on which it will focus. An unmarked red Ford Crown Victoria and silver Ford Explorer will patrol all major thoroughfares, including Interstate 25, C-470, Lincoln Avenue, Yosemite Street, RidgeGate Parkway, County Line Road, Park Meadows Drive and Park Meadows Center Drive.

“This has never been nor will it ever be about revenue,” Streeter said. “This is about compliance.”

Seat belts saved nearly 12,000 lives in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which also shows seat belt use at an all-time high of 86 percent in 2012.

Research shows lap seat belts reduce the risk of front-seat passenger fatalities 45 percent, and the risk of injury 50 percent.

In addition to physical trauma, accidents take a large financial toll in property damage, lost earnings, legal expenses, emergency services and medical care.

Parker and Castle Rock police departments also received a Click It or Ticket grant.