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More are buckling up but 4% don't
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The state of California estimates that one million Californians are still not buckling up. But Sgt. Danny Vierra of the Ceres Police Department believes that about 96 percent of the drivers he encounters are wearing their seatbelts.

That's good considering it could cost anyone $163 for being caught riding in a car without a seat belt in the current Click-it-Or-Ticket enforcement program that is going on through Sunday.

"It looks like we're doing a lot better, like 96 percent compliance rate," said Sgt. Vierra. "I remember when we started doing enforcement campaigns and we were in the 80 percentile with compliance. It's usually 96 percent after we do this enforcement campaign. I'm seeing a pretty significant number of people wearing seat belts. I think people are tired of getting tickets."

Vierra said the campaign includes a plain clothes and unmarked car observance of drivers in a certain area.

The state has reduced funding for overtime hours for the Click It or Ticket mobilization, which runs May 23 to June 5. The fines and fees for first time adult seat belt violations is a minimum of $142. For children under 16, the fine is $445 for a first time offense.

Because nighttime passenger vehicle occupants are among those least likely to buckle up and most likely to die in crashes when unrestrained, nighttime enforcement has become a priority of the mobilization. Nationwide, of those who died in nighttime crashes in 2009, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) were not wearing seat belts at the time of their fatal crashes.

"Many nighttime traffic deaths can be prevented if more motorists simply start wearing their seat belts," said Ceres Chief of Police Art deWerk. "Law enforcement throughout the area will be looking for seat belt violators, day and night. Citations will be issued without warning. It's not just about avoiding a costly ticket; it's about keeping the ones you care about alive. Remember to buckle up on every trip, day and night."

The Click It or Ticket mobilization is credited with increasing the state's adult seat belt usage rate from 92.5 percent in 2005 to 96.2 percent in 2010.

"We are very proud of California's seat belt and child safety seat use rates," said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. "However, with nearly one million motorists still not buckling up, there is much more work to do. Reaching the last four percent of motorists is crucial to reaching our goal of zero deaths."

More than 600 permanent Click It or Ticket highway signs, which have been up since 2005, have been updated to reflect the 'Minimum $142' message as a reminder to motorists that failing to buckle up is costly.

Properly restrained drivers, passengers and children have a 50 percent better chance of surviving a crash than unbelted occupants. Those ejected from vehicles in crashes or roll-overs are up to 35 times more likely to die than restrained occupants. In 2009 alone, seat belts saved approximately 12,713 lives nationwide. In California, it is estimated that 320 people who were killed in 2009 would be alive today if they had been wearing seat belts.

More than 140 local law enforcement agencies statewide and the California Highway Patrol will be participating in this year's Click It or Ticket mobilization. Funding to support California's Click It or Ticket campaign was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.