MALHEUR COUNTY — Starting Monday, the Malheur County Sheriff’s Office is now conducting a special traffic safety enforcement, with a focus on safety belts, in addition to other traffic violations. The enforcement will continue through Feb. 17.

According to a new release from Lt. Rich Harriman, recent traffic surveys have shown safety belt compliance by motorists in Malheur County an being between 62 and 78 percent, down from the high 90s in past years.

Funding for the overtime which will occur during the additional enforcement hours is coming from grants through the Oregon Department of Transportation from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The fine for non use of safety belts can be $115.

The grants pay for officers to come out an work on their own time, Sheriff Brian Wolfe said.

In addition to seat belt compliance, deputies will also be looking for distracted driving, he said, noting that Malheur County drivers have previously not seen too much enforcement.

“We’re seeing way too many crashes involving distracted driving,” Wolfe said.

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