Law enforcement authorities throughout Los Angeles County joined their counterparts nationwide in a stepped-up effort to enforce seatbelt laws beginning today.
The "Click It or Ticket" campaign continues through June 3.
"Seat belts are the most effective piece of life-saving equipment inside your vehicle," Santa Monica police Sgt. Richard Lewis said.
During the two-week campaign, extra officers will be on patrol looking for people who are not wearing seat belts in vehicles. However, Lewis noted, enforcement efforts continue year-round.
The total cost for a first-time ticket is $142, Lewis said.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, 22,187 people in vehicles were killed in traffic crashes nationwide in 2010, and 51 percent of them were not wearing seat belts when the accidents occurred.
"Seat belt use saves thousands of lives across America each year, with NHTSA statistics showing that in 2010 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 12,546 lives nationwide," Lewis said.