Local authorities on heightened seat belt patrol

INDIO, Calif. - Local law enforcement agencies are participating in a national seatbelt enforcement program starting today.

"Click It or Ticket," which runs through June 2, targets people who do not wear seatbelts or use them incorrectly. Local agencies participating in the effort include the Indio office of the California Highway Patrol and the La Quinta Police Department.

"As we kick off the busy summer driving season, it's important that everyone buckles up every time they go out, both day and night -- no excuses," said La Quinta police Cpl. Don Olson. "Our officers are prepared to ticket anyone who is not wearing their seat belt."

CHP Officer Joe Zagorski said the CHP's Indio office -- which covers the Coachella Valley -- issued more than 700 citations for seat belt violations in 2011.

He said the state is ranked fourth in the nation in seat belt usage, but the CHP "still sees fatalities in collisions as a result of occupants not wearing their seat belts."

State law requires all vehicle occupants to be properly restrained by a safety belt, children under 8 years old or less than 4 feet, 9 inches tall must be properly secured in a child safety seat or booster seat.

Click It or Ticket is a campaign through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. For information, go to nhtsa.gov.

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