There’s no good excuse for not wearing a seatbelt, but in case you needed yet another reason to buckle up, California Highway Patrol has begun taking a “zero tolerance” approach to anyone caught driving without a safety belt. Beginning on Monday, May 21st, California Highway Patrol will no longer be issuing warnings, but rather doling out tickets to those foolish enough to drive without a seatbelt. The increased enforcement is part of the state’s “Click It or Ticket” seat belt campaign, designed to target the estimated one million motorists who still refuse to buckle in while behind the wheel.
Each year, approximately 1,300 Californians are saved simply because they had a seatbelt on at the time of their accident. Unfortunately, as many as 110 additional deaths are estimated to be preventable if people would just buckle in before they hit the road.
On the bright side, California does have one of the highest seatbelt usage rates in the country at 96.6 percent. However, with the state’s population as large as it is, that still leaves about 1.25 million people driving around without fastening in.
The new “zero tolerance” policy will mean at least a $159 ticket for a first offense, and failing to buckle in a minor will cost the driver a minimum of $479 per child. Plus, with a second offense costing upwards of $1,079, the Highway Patrol is sending a very distinct message that it pays to practice safe driving behaviors.
In addition to monitoring seatbelt usage, California Highway Patrol will also be issuing separate infractions to drivers breaking the hands-free or no texting law. So buckle up, put the cell phone down, and drive safe out there.
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