Crime & Justice

Southern California 'Click It or Ticket' seatbelt crackdown begins today

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A crackdown on motorists not wearing seatbelts will begin today.

The 2010 "Click It or Ticket" mobilization will run through June 6, and violators will get tickets costing at least $142, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.

Police, sheriff's deputies and California Highway Patrol officers will participate in the Southern California crackdown.

"Keep your friends and family safe by buckling up no matter where you're going," said Axel Anderson, captain of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Lancaster Station.

"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."

Fines for first-time adult seatbelt violations are $142 and $445 for a first-time offense involving children under 16.

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

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. People ejected from vehicles are up to 35 times more likely to die than those belted in.

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

(The audio report was done by KPCC's Frank Stoltze)