Ryan Chartrand

Driving a few blocks may not seem far, especially in the relatively quiet and peaceful city of San Luis Obispo. Nonetheless, make sure to buckle up even for short drives, as police officers will be taking a closer look at seat belt infractions for the next couple of weeks.

From May 19 to June 1, the San Luis Obispo Police Department will bump up the Click It or Ticket (CIOT) campaign in the city through “high visibility enforcement,” or what the department refers to as “strict enforcement.”

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) will choose one or two weeks out of the year to implement the strict enforcement of certain campaigns.

While some traffic campaign mobilizations are not necessarily holiday-oriented, CIOT is more strictly enforced for the Memorial Day holiday.

“There are usually extra patrols and checkpoints over holidays like Memorial Day,” said Kevin Phillips, a San Luis Obispo Police Department officer.

OTS is also responsible for implementing checkpoints, training and other traffic campaigns throughout the state.

According to Phillips, there is a 98 percent user rate for seat belts in San Luis Obispo.

However, even if you are usually good about wearing seat belts, there will be no warnings given before a ticket is issued.

“Basically, if you pull someone over, there’s going to be a ticket,” Phillips said. “With all the literature and signs, everyone knows about the campaign. The ones who (don’t wear a seat belt) out of habit will likely get a ticket.”

First offenses for failure to wear a seat belt may cost around $20, and further offenses may incur fines of $90.

While the focus is on seat belt infractions, officers will also look for problems with child safety seats, and for children who should be secured in those seats. Phillips mentioned that police departments such as in San Luis Obispo have officers qualified to perform child seat safety inspections and installations.

Phillips advised to “buckle up” not only to avoid a ticket, but also to save a life.

“I’ve seen some pretty good accidents where the guy was wearing a seat belt in an accident and he was able to walk away,” Phillips said.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, men ages 18 to 34 are the least likely to wear seat belts. They are the primary audience of the CIOT campaign.

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