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In California, 25 motorists die over Memorial Day weekend

More than two dozen people were killed in California roadway collisions during the Memorial Day weekend this year and, according to the California Highway Patrol, some of the motorists involved were not wearing a seatbelt.

CHP Officer Saul Gomez said that eight of the 25 killed were on Los Angeles roadways when they crashed during the 78-hour tracked period between Friday night and Monday morning. That was more than double the three fatalities recorded in L.A. over the same weekend in 2011.  

"That’s higher than we would like to see," Gomez said. "The number to look for is always zero."

Gomez said that California actually has one of the highest rates of seatbelt compliance in the country at 96.6%, but the sheer number of motorists in California drives up the fatality count. With investigations ongoing, Gomez said it was unclear exactly how many motorists were wearing seatbelts at the time of their collisions, but that some were ejected from their cars.

In the eyes of the law, wearing a seatbelt improperly is the same as not wearing one at all, according to Gomez. So tucking that diagonal strap under your arm could cost as much as $150 for a citation and court fees.

"Many people feel that it constrains them, and that if the vehicle does roll over, they won’t be able to get out," Gomez said. "People think it’s not cool, with the younger crowd at least." 

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-- Matt Stevens
twitter.com/mattstevenslat

 
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