AUSTIN, Texas - TxDOT is reminding Texas motorists of one of the simplest and easiest precautions everyone can take to protect themselves and their loved ones: buckling up.
Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying by 45 percent for those in the front seat of passenger cars. For those in pickups, seat belts reduce the risk of dying by 60 percent since pickups are more likely to roll over than passenger vehicles.
“Our annual Click It or Ticket campaign is about saving lives,” said executive director James Bass. “While almost 91% of Texans have gotten into the habit of using seat belts, there are still far too many motorists who are taking unnecessary chances by not buckling up. Whether you’re the driver or a passenger, wearing a seat belt—day and night—is the single most effective way to protect yourself from serious injury or death in a crash.”
TxDOT officials report that in 2019 there were 925 traffic fatalities involving an unbuckled driver or passenger, a 6 percent drop over the previous year. Although around 9 percent do not wear a seat belt, the lack of seat belt usage was reported in 42 percent of traffic fatalities for those who had the option, excluding pedestrian, bicycle, and motorcycle fatalities.
TxDOT says that a 2019 Texas A&M Transportation Institute survey noted that drivers and passengers in 18 Texas cities buckle up less at night than during the day. In Texas last year, 59% of crashes in which an unbuckled driver or passenger was killed happened at night. Seat belt use among pickup drivers and passengers was also less than other motorists, as almost 46% of the almost 500 pickup drivers killed in crashes last year weren’t buckled up.
From November 16-29, TxDOT says state troopers, police officers, and sheriffs’ deputies statewide will be stepping up enforcement of seat belt and child car seat laws. Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to be properly secured in the front or back seat or face fines and fees up to $200. Children younger than 8 years must be restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. If a child isn’t secured, the driver faces fines of up to $250.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Click It or Ticket initiative in Texas is estimated to have saved more than 6,234 lives, prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries, and resulted in $23.6 billion in economic savings since the campaign began in 2002.