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More Californians using seat belts, officials say

Photo: An automatic shoulder belt harness. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

While more California drivers and passengers than ever are buckling up, the greater Los Angeles area is lagging behind, state officials said Thursday.

Californians set a record for seat belt usage this year with 96.6% strapping in, an increase of 0.4% from 2010, according to data from the Office of Traffic Safety. The Los Angeles area was not far behind with 95.6%, but it ranked at the bottom of every region in the state, said agency spokesman Chris Cochran.

“It only takes two seconds to buckle up. If we could get everyone to drive sober and use seat belts every time they get in the car, over a thousand more Californians would be home for Thanksgiving,” said the agency’s director Christopher J. Murphy.

The news was released tactically just before the holiday season, with the agency citing 38 deaths on California roadways during the Thanksgiving holiday in 2010.

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Californians set a record for seat belt usage this year with 96.6% strapping in. Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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