It’s click it or ticket time.

The CHP and more than 200 police departments statewide, including Petaluma’s, are implementing a zero tolerance enforcement of drivers and passengers who don’t use seat belts.

The special enforcement program, which began Monday, runs through June 3.

The state Office of Traffic Safety reported that California has one of the highest seat belt compliance rates in the nation at 96.6 percent. But with a population of about 37.7 million, that remaining 3.4 percent could mean that about 1 million people don’t buckle up.

OTS noted that it’s at night when people are least likely to use seat belts and most likely to die in crashes when unrestrained.  In 2010, the number of those who died in crashes and who were not wearing seat belts was nearly 60 percent higher at night, OTS said.

The fine for not wearing a seat belt is $160 in Sonoma County. If a child under age 16 isn’t buckled in, the fine is $480 for the first offense and $1,080 for a second offense.


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