California to crack down on seatbelt violations with heftier fines in annual drive

16:02, May 22, 2010      

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California will join other states in the United States on Monday to crack down on people who fail to wear seatbelts with heftier fines, the state Office of Traffic Safety announced on Friday.

During the 2010 "Click It or Ticket," an annual 14-day nationwide drive which winds up on June 6, violators will receive citations, not warnings, costing a minimum of 142 U.S. dollars. More than 150 local law enforcement agencies throughout California, including the Sheriff's Department and California Highway Patrol officers will focus on looking for unbelted drivers and passengers, the office said.

More than 600 permanent Click It or Ticket highway signs, which have been up since 2005, will be updated to reflect the minimum 142-U.S. dollar fines in the coming months.

"Wearing a seatbelt is just simply the easiest and most effective thing you can do on the road to protect yourself and your family," California Office of Traffic Safety director Christopher Murphy said.

Seatbelts are the most effective safety feature available in vehicles today. However, nearly one in five Americans fail to regularly wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a vehicle.

Drivers, passengers and children have a 50 percent better chance of surviving a crash than unbelted occupants, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In 2008 alone, seatbelts saved 13,250 lives throughout the United States.

During the campaign, fines for first-time adult seatbelt violations have increased from 132 to 142 U.S. dollars. For children under 16, the fine is now 445 U.S. dollars for a first-time offense.

"Click It or Ticket" is a multi-state enforcement campaign to crack down on seatbelt violations and to reduce highway fatalities. It was first launched in North Carolina in 1993. Since then many states have followed with similar enforcement drives.

Source: Xinhua


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