Texas motorists warned to Buckle Up or Pay Up starting May 21

Police Out in Force May 21 – June 3 for Click It or Ticket Campaign

Source: Texas Department of Transportation

From May 21 through June 3, including the Memorial Day weekend, thousands of state troopers, police officers and sheriff’s deputies across the Lone Star state will be on the lookout for drivers and passengers who are not buckled up or whose children are not properly restrained.

Throughout this two week-long enforcement period of the Texas Department of Transportation’s annual Click It or Ticket campaign, drivers and passengers who choose not to fasten their seat belts could be pulled over and fined up to $250, plus court costs.

Texas law requires that both drivers and passengers wear seat belts. Children younger than 8 years old must ride in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. TxDOT uses the “Click It or Ticket” campaign to raise awareness about the law surrounding seat belt use and the importance of always buckling up.

“It only takes a minute to strap on your seat belt and to make sure that everyone else in your vehicle is properly restrained,” said Carol Rawson, TxDOT’s Traffic Operations division director. “That one minute can save a life. We shouldn’t have to remind people to wear seat belts. But just in case, police officers around the state will be pulling over folks who still have not gotten the message.”

Traffic crashes remain a leading cause of death in Texas. In 2011, nearly 3,000 people died in fatal collisions on Texas streets and highways. Almost half of those drivers and passengers were not buckled up. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent for car occupants and 60 percent for light-truck occupants.

“Click It or Ticket is not just about writing tickets. It’s about saving lives,” said Rawson. “Seat belt use in Texas is much higher than it was when we started this effort 11 years ago, but we still have some holdouts. We want everyone to get on board with the habit of buckling up.”

Most at risk for serious injury or death are pickup truck drivers and passengers. Pickups account for one in four registered vehicles in Texas and are twice as likely to roll in a crash. However, seat belt use among pickup drivers and passengers continues to lag. Ninety-one percent of pickup drivers buckle up compared to 95 percent of other drivers. And, only 80 percent of truck passengers use seat belts compared to 92 percent of passengers in other vehicles.

In fact, Texas currently ranks seventh in the nation for overall seat belt use, and 93.7 percent of Texas motorists use seat belts according to the Texas Transportation Institute. Experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate that the steady increase in seat belt usage in Texas over the past 10 years has resulted in 2,843 fewer traffic fatalities, 48,000 fewer serious injuries and a savings to the state of more than $10 billion in associated costs.

Visit www.texasclickitorticket.com for more information.