PUBLIC SAFETY FACILITY — If you’re planning to hit the road for a late spring or early summer getaway, be sure that everyone in the car wears their seat belts on every trip, day and night or risk paying a hefty fine.

Law enforcement throughout the state, including Santa Monica, will be looking for unbelted drivers and passengers as part of the 2010 Click It or Ticket mobilization from May 24 to June 6. This year, fines and fees have increased from $132 to $142 for first-time adult seat belt violations. For children under 16, the fine is now $445 for a first-time offense.

“Keep your friends and family safe by buckling up no matter where you’re going,” said Santa Monica Police Chief Tim Jackman. “We will be looking for motorists throughout the area who are not buckling up, day and night. It’s not just about avoiding a ticket; it’s about keeping the ones you care about alive.”

Seat belt violators will receive citations — no warnings, police said. The Click It or Ticket campaign relies on heavy enforcement and public education as a means to help save lives on California’s roadways.

“Wearing a seat belt is just simply the easiest and most effective thing you can do on the road to protect yourself and your family,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “That means buckling … on every trip.”

More than 600 permanent Click It or Ticket highway signs, which have been up since 2005, will be updated to reflect the new “Minimum $142” in the coming months, police said.

Currently, California has a seat belt usage rate of 95.3 percent, but that still means over half a million people are not buckling up, police said. 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.

More than 150 local law enforcement agencies statewide and the California Highway Patrol 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.

news@smdp.com

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