Troopers already have cited about 6,500 motorists statewide for not wearing their seat belts this month, the Florida Highway Patrol said Friday.
Almost 10 percent of them were from the Tampa Bay area.
Florida troopers stepped up their enforcement of the state's 2009 seat belt law this month as part of a campaign called Click it or Ticket.
The number of local drivers ticketed this year is nearly three times the amount from the same span last year, rising from about 230 to 633, said Sgt. Larry Kraus, FHP spokesman.
Kraus said the increase stems largely from a change in state law last year that allows law enforcement to stop a motorist who is not wearing a seat belt. Before the change such tickets were issued only if someone was stopped for another infraction, such as speeding or driving under the influence.
The local FHP district covers Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Hillsborough, Hernando, Citrus, Polk and Sumter counties. A ticket issued in any of these areas costs between $100 and $114, Kraus said.
During the 15-day stretch, FHP said they issued 36,858 traffic citations. Of those, about 10,000 were for speeding, and 311 were for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Several other area police departments that participated in the campaign had not announced totals as of Friday.
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