The California Highway Patrol and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, as well as many other state agencies, are working throughout this month to crackdown on motorists who improperly use, or drive without their seatbelts.

English: A warning sign reminding motorists in...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This new enforcement will continue through June 3 as part of the government’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign. This new crackdown shows a marked difference from before, because law enforcement officials now have the authority to directly issue citations and tickets for unbelted motorists, rather than just a warning for first-time offenders.

California Highway Patrol officials also remind drivers that all occupants of a vehicle must use both the lap belt and the shoulder harness in order to be considered properly buckled up.

“Wearing a seat belt is the No. 1 defense to protect you in a car crash,” said Office of Traffic Safety Director Christopher J. Murphy. “Your risk of death or serious injury is doubled by not wearing a seat belt.”

According to figures from a few years past, nearly 1,300 lives were saved by the proper use of seatbelts throughout the state in 2010. Unfortunately, 110 lives were lost that same year because of either improper use or because of drivers failing to use safety restraints at all. Driving without a seatbelt could result in fines, or even jail time, depending on how many citations the driver is issued for the same offense.

Authorities added that after sunset people were significantly less likely to use seatbelts and therefore, more likely to die in any collision that occurred. Driving at nighttime also increases the risk of a fatal accident because of the decreased visibility that occurs, so it is essential that motorists use their seatbelts at all times of day.

For first-time offenders of the seatbelt laws the fine is $159. The second offense costs $479 for an adult, and if a child under 16 years old is in the vehicle and not wearing a seatbelt, that cost skyrockets to $1,079.

Even if the parent is in the car, the driver will get the ticket, according to the Office of Traffic Safety. If a driver is found to be in violation of both the seatbelt laws and the hands-free or no-texting law, then the citation could cost the driver about $318 or more.

Grant money from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds the Click It or Ticket campaign.

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