The Santa Monica Police Department is among dozens of police agencies in the Southland and statewide getting a slice of more than $3 million in traffic-safety grants intended for “Click It Or Ticket,” enforcement efforts, the California Office of Traffic Safety announced Tuesday.

The SMPD’s share amounts to $22,270.

The grants will put additional law enforcement officers on California’s roadways at various times, but mainly during a pair of two-week periods: the last two weeks in November, and the last two weeks of May, said Chris Cochran of the OTS.

“There is absolutely no question that seat belts save lives,” said OTS Director Christopher J. Murphy. “Buckling up will not only save you a heavy fine, it can also save your life.”

California has a seat belt usage rate of 95.4 percent, but that still means that more than 1.5 million people in the state are not buckling up, Murphy said.

Properly restrained drivers, passengers and children have a 50 percent better chance of surviving a crash than unbelted occupants, and those ejected from vehicles in crashes or roll-overs are up to 35 times more likely to die than restrained occupants, Murphy said. Each traffic fatality carries a potential economic impact of over $4 million to families and society, he said.

“There are no excuses; law enforcement will not be giving warnings,” said California Highway Patrol Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Nothing is worth risking the lives of you or your family. This should be the season of joy and thanksgiving, not tragedy.”

The fine for a seat belt violation for vehicle occupants over the age of 16 has recently risen to $142. The fine for failing to properly buckle up any child under the age of 16 increases to about $360 per child for a first offense and up to $980 on a second offense.

The grants were awarded through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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