police-light-bar1.jpgLaw enforcement officials throughout the Bay Area and the rest of California will begin increased enforcement of drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts starting Monday.

The enforcement operation will start Monday and run through June 6. Authorities believe there are more than half a million people in the state that do not wear a seat belt when driving.

The operation will also feature an updating of the “Click It or Ticket” highway signs that have been up since 2005. In the coming months, the signs will be updated to mention that the minimum fine for adult seat belt violations now costs $142.

The fine went up from $132 at the start of this year. The fine is also now $445 for children under 16 years old, according to authorities.

“Wearing a seat belt is just simply the easiest and most effective thing you can do on the road to protect yourself and your family,” Christopher Murphy, director of California’s Office of Traffic Safety, said in a statement.”

Studies show that properly restrained drivers, passengers and children have a 50 percent better chance of surviving a crash than unbelted occupants. People ejected from vehicles in crashes are up to 35 times more likely to die than people wearing seat belts.

More than 150 local law enforcement agencies statewide, including several in the Bay Area, will join the California Highway Patrol in the operation.

Fairfield police Sgt. Mike Mitchell said in a statement that officers “will be looking for motorists throughout the area who are not buckling up, day and night. It’s not just about avoiding a ticket; it’s about keeping the ones you care about alive.”

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