Police up patrols for traffic safety | VailDaily.com

Police up patrols for traffic safety

Veronica Whitney

When drivers in Eagle County hit the roads today, they’ll see more police enforcing traffic law. “We will have a lot of people in the roads enforcing speed limits and checking on aggressive and distracted drivers, seatbelt usage and impaired driving due to alcohol or drugs,” said Capt. Barry Bratt of the Colorado State Patrol.This summer, police departments in Eagle County are joining forces with the Colorado State Patrol to increase traffic safety through different programs.”Our goal is to reduce fatal crashes by enforcing Colorado laws,” Barry said.The programs are:– Colorado Target Zero -a Colorado State Patrol high-visibility campaign to reduce traffic fatalities -this statewide-program starts today.– Checkpoint Colorado – a DUI enforcement campaign from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office. Starts Memorial Day.– Click it or ticket – a Vail Police seatbelt enforcement campaign launched Monday by Vail Police. During Click it or ticket, a nationwide program that will run through June 6, and thanks to a grant from the Colorado Department of Transportation, Vail Police will have more officers patrolling the streets to encourage the use of seatbelts, said Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger.”Seatbelt usage in Eagle County increased from 71 percent in 2002 to 84 percent in 2003, after state patrol and local police joined the Click it or ticket campaign last year,” Henninger said. “Our goal for 2004, is 87 percent.” In Colorado, 77.7 percent of drivers use seatbelts compared to 79 percent across the country.

Drivers caught not wearing the seatbelt could get a minimum fine of $18.60. In addition, if a child is under 4 years old or less than 40 lbs. and isn’t in a car seat, there could be a minimum fine of $58, Henninger said.”If Colorado could increase seatbelt usage by 11 percent, it’s estimated it could save 56 lives and $166 million in economic cost,” Henninger said.This year’s campaign, Henninger said, will focus on teenagers.”We want to increase seatbelt usage in the 16-19 age group,” he said. “Although only 6.6 percent of drivers nationwide are teenagers, they’re involved in more than 14 percent of the fatal traffic accidents.”Avon police and the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office also have received grants from CDOT to pay for overtime to help with the program, Henninger said.During Colorado Target Zero, which starts today and runs through May 31, all members of the Colorado State Patrol will be on the roads patrolling, Bratt said.”The purpose is to hopefully have a week with no fatalities in Colorado,” Bratt said. “During Memorial Day week, we usually have two fatalities a day.”For Checkpoint Colorado -running from Memorial Day through Labor Day-the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office will work with fixed and mobile checkpoints where sheriff’s deputies will check for DUI.”We’ll post statistics of infractions and arrests daily,” Bratt said.Veronica Whitney can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 454 or at vwhitney@vaildaily.com.

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