Buckle up for holiday safety

GLENDALE — Police will conduct saturation enforcement patrols in the next two weeks as part of a statewide campaign aimed at increasing seat belt use.

About 92% of Glendale motorists wear seat belts, but Glendale police are looking to widen the lead and get more compliance among drivers and their passengers, Police Lt. Carl Povilaitis said.

The Police Department was awarded a $3,355-grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to help them fund its "Click It or Ticket" operations for this campaign period and another in June, he said.

Patrol and traffic officers were asked to increase their vigilance of motorists and passengers who aren't strapped into their seats, he said.

Law enforcement agencies step up seat belt compliance efforts before Thanksgiving and Memorial Day because more people hit the road during that time to visit friends and family, Chris Cochran, a spokesman for the state agency, said.

"It's a time when we keep thinking about family and want to try to be around for them," he said.

Also during the holidays, Cochran said motorists are more open to listening to public awareness messages about safe driving habits.

About 150 law enforcement agencies will be participating in this month's "Click It or Ticket" campaign, which he said includes increased patrols and public awareness.

Along with focusing on seat belt use, police will also look at whether children are restrained in proper child safety seats, Cochran said.

Seat belt compliancy is low mostly among teens and young adults because many are distracted by friends or their surroundings and forget to put it on, he said.

Still, compliancy throughout Los Angeles County has increased from 94.3% in 2009 to 96.7% in 2010, a total that nearly beats the statewide average of 96.2%, according to state statistics on seat belt use during summer months.

Not wearing a seat belt carries a hefty fine, from at least $142 for adults to $445 for parents who fail to strap in children under 16. Failing to properly restrain a child on a second offense could cost at least $1,000.

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