Starting May 19 and ending June 1, thousands of Texas state troopers, police officers and sheriff’s deputies will be on the streets and highways issuing citations to drivers who aren’t buckled up and whose children aren’t properly restrained – and paying extra special attention to front seat-passengers who are not wearing seatbelts.
As part of the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) 7th annual statewide “Click It or Ticket” campaign, not wearing a seatbelt could cost vehicle occupants up to $200 this year. The reason for the focus on passengers, said Carlos Lopez, TxDOT’s traffic operations director, is that while more than 92% of Texas drivers buckle up, passengers are lagging behind. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, only 87% of passengers in Texas use a safety belt, and that number dips to 79% when evaluating pickup truck passengers, Lopez noted.
“Since pickups are twice as likely as passenger vehicles to roll over in a fatal crash, we worry about the safety of people who don’t take the simple precaution of buckling up when they’re in a truck,” he added. “Wearing a safety belt reduces the risks of dying in a pickup rollover crash by as much as 80%.”
Safety advocates report that drivers and passengers who buckle up have a 50% better chance of surviving serious traffic collisions and avoiding serious injuries. Lopez noted that since the Click It or Ticket campaign was first launched in Texas in 2002, there have been an estimated 1,600 fewer traffic fatalities in Texas and 37,000 fewer injuries as a result of increased safety belt use.“The simple act of buckling up is the easiest, least expensive and most effective way to prevent traffic deaths and injuries,” said Lopez. “It also can keep you from getting a ticket.”