OCEANSIDE — An expected 35 people in the nation will die each day during the holiday season simply because they are not buckled up while riding in a vehicle, and the Oceanside Police Department is one of many agencies participating in Click it or Ticket to help save those lives and lower the number of people who don’t buckle up.
The ticket enforcement campaign is held Nov. 15 to Nov. 29, and more than 150 local law enforcement agencies will be working as part of the campaign to raise awareness and cite violators of the seat belt law.
This year, Californians reached an all-time high percentage for buckling their seat belts, according to a survey just released by the California Office of Traffic Safety, or OTS.
The observational survey was performed during the summer months and shows that 96.2 percent of drivers and passengers were using seat buckles or child safety seats, compared to the 2009 statewide figure of 95.3.
The nationwide figure is 83 percent, and in San Diego County 97.7 people regularly buckle up.
The OTS chart shows that last year in San Diego County 95.8 percent of people were regular seat belt users.
For those who aren’t, there is a price to pay.
“No one wants to start the holidays off wrong with a ticket,” said Lt. Leonard Mata of the Oceanside Police Department. “Save your money for turkey and buying presents for loved ones — don’t throw it away simply because you failed to buckle up.”
Ticket fines can start at a minimum of $142 for an adult who violates the seat belt law, and a minimum $445 for children under 16 who are not properly buckled, according to the OTS.
A second offense for a child not properly restrained is more than $1,000.
“Taking two seconds to buckle up can save your life or the life of a loved one,” said Joe Farrow, Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol. “It’s the single most effective thing you can do to survive a vehicle crash.”
Farrow said that estimates show that more than 1,300 Californians survived crashes by buckling up last year.
Mata said that total traffic fatalities are at the lowest level in the past 60 years.
But the numbers still mean more than 1.5 million Californians don’t buckle up, according to Mata.
According to the OTS, “seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent, and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans.”