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Additional officers looking for seat belt violators in Merced, according to police

A Merced Police cruiser turns onto West 21st Street in downtown Merced, Calif., Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Merced Sun-Star file image.
A Merced Police cruiser turns onto West 21st Street in downtown Merced, Calif., Tuesday, May 12, 2015. Merced Sun-Star file image. akuhn@mercedsunstar.com

The Merced Police Department is stepping up enforcement of the the national “Click It or Ticket” campaign, according to authorities.

From May 20 to June 2, additional officers will be on patrol looking for drivers and passengers who are not buckled up, according to a news release. The enforcement will also look for drivers who do not secure children in child safety seats.

Police said that although the state of California has one of the highest seat belt use rates in the nation at 96.2 percent, 532 people killed in crashes statewide last year were not wearing a seat belt.

“Seat belts have proven time and time again to save lives,” said Merced Police Sgt. Dan Dabney. “Buckling up should be second nature.”

According to authorities, California has a primary seat belt law which allows officers to ticket a person for not wearing a seat belt even if they have not committed another traffic violation.

The fine for a seat belt violation in California is $162, while the fine for failing to secure a child in a proper safety seat is $490, according to the police.

Under California law, children under 2-years-old, 40 pounds and 40 inches, are required to be in a rear-facing car seat. Children under the age of eight, must be secured in a car or booster seat, authorities said.

It takes a few seconds to put on a seat belt and it is your best protection in a crash, police said.

Authorities said enforcement of the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, is funded by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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