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Weld County seat belt use among lowest across U.S.

WELD COUNTY, Colo. - The Colorado Department of Transportation is focusing on Weld County for its latest 'Click it or Ticket' campaign because the county has among the lowest seat belt use rates in the U.S.

Statistics from CDOT show 84 percent of Colorado drivers use their seat belts. That percent is among the lowest across the U.S. In Weld County, that rate is even lower, at 82.2 percent of drivers using their seat belts. In 2016, 23 people died in crashes in Weld County because they weren't wearing seat belts, the highest total in the state.

Becky Schneider joined CDOT's campaign in hopes that her story of losing her son will encourage others to buckle up. He was driving along Highway 34 when his car rolled and he flew out an open window.

"He wasn't wearing his seat belt so the windows were down and he went out and he died instantly," said Schneider.

A CDOT spokesperson said people don't use seat belts in Weld County because it's part of the culture. Schneider agrees, and said it "has a lot to do with the farming community."

"[My son] would tell me it's too hard to put your seat belt on to get out of the truck every 5 or 10 minutes to go check water or jump in a tractor for a few minutes and then jump back in your truck and so it just carried over into every day life," said Schneider.

She hopes her grief reminds others that the small "inconvenience" of putting on your seat belt saves families from a lifetime of grief.

"If it could save some mom, sister, brother, aunt, anybody from going through the heartache that I've had to go through, it would be well worth it if someone could hear that and listen," said Schneider.

The campaign kicks off Monday.