SACRAMENTO, CALIF., May 19, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Even with a seatbelt usage rate of 97.4 percent, California still has 800,000 or more who aren't buckling up, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS). In a crash, they stand a 50 percent greater chance of being killed than those who have taken the two seconds to buckle in. In an on-going effort to reach those remaining safety hold-outs, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and law enforcement agencies across the state will be taking part in Click It or Ticket enforcements from May 19 through June 1.
"Wearing a seat belt is one of the easiest and best things you can do to protect yourself in the event of a car crash," said OTS Director Rhonda Craft. "Taking a few moments to properly secure yourself and all your passengers before going on your way could mean the difference between life and death."
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, over 10,000 passenger vehicle occupants died in crashes while not wearing a seatbelt in 2012. At least half of those might have survived if they had been buckled in. From 2008 to 2012, seat belts are estimated to have saved nearly 63,000 lives.
"It is important to wear your seat belt at all times – every trip, every time," said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. "Through education and enforcement our goal is to encourage all vehicle occupants to buckle up and understand that wearing a seat belt can truly save a person's life."
Marking the beginning of the summer travel season, the Click It or Ticket enforcement will be targeting drivers, passengers and children, both day and night. The cost for a seat belt violation in California for unbuckled vehicle occupants over age 16 is a minimum of $161 for a first offense. The penalty fees for failing to properly buckle up any child under the age of 16 is a minimum $490 per child for a first offense, plus a violation point will be added to the driver's record. If the parent is not in the car, the driver gets the ticket.
For more traffic safety information, visit the California Office of Traffic Safety at www.ots.ca.gov, CHP at www.chp.ca.gov, or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at www.nhtsa.gov.
Chris Cochran (916) 509-3063