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Seat belt ticket fee jumps to $132

Posted: May 18, 2009 3:47 p.m.
Updated: May 18, 2009 5:22 p.m.

Keep you and your family safe and $132 in your wallet by making sure everyone wears their seat belts for every trip.

That's the message the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station is telling drivers as part of the 2009 start-of-summer "Click it or Ticket" mobilization campaign running May 18-31.

Fines and fees have gone from less than $100 previously to $132 this year for first time adult seat belt violations. For children under 16, the fine is now $435 for the first time offense.

The more than 600 Click It or Ticket roadside signs throughout California are currently being updated with the new ticket cost. The previous ticket price topped out at $91 for adults and $350 for children.

No warnings will be given out, as the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station will be aggressively enforcing the state's occupant protection laws. The Click It or Ticket campaign relies on heavy enforcement and public education as a means to help save lives on California's roadways.

"Seat belts save thousands of lives every year," Captain Anthony La Berge said. "Buckling up will not only save you a heavy fine, it can also save your life. We're not giving warnings. It's Click It or Ticket."

Currently California has a seat belt usage rate of 95.7 percent, well above the national average of 83 percent, but that still means over one half million people are not buckling up. Properly restrained drivers, passengers and children have a 50 percent better chance of surviving a crash than unbelted occupants. Those ejected from vehicles in crashes or roll-overs are up to 35 times more likely to die than restrained occupants.

"It's critical that all drivers and passengers buckle up on every ride, day and night," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "Our officers will be on the lookout for those who are not buckled up and for teens and children not riding properly restrained. No exceptions or excuses. It's Click It or Ticket, because the consequences otherwise are too costly. Statistics from last year's Memorial Day Maximum Enforcement Period alone show that more than half of those killed were not wearing seat belts."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the lives of 1,791 Californians were saved by seatbelts last year. Those not properly restrained stand an average 50 percent greater chance of being killed than those who buckle up. While the seat belt use rates for adults in California has increased steadily since 2004, the teen seat belt use rate still falls short, with only 89.6 percent of teens buckling up in 2008.

"Buckling up just makes sense," said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. "It takes only two seconds for an action that can make the difference whether you or your family gets home today."

More than 90 local law enforcement agencies statewide and the CHP will be participating in this year's Click It or Ticket mobilization.

Funding to support California's Click it or Ticket campaign was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


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