AUSTIN – This month marks the 15th anniversary of the “Click It or Ticket” campaign urging Texans to buckle up. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that since its inception 15 years ago, our life-saving campaign has resulted in 5,068 fewer traffic fatalities. However, from 2015 to 2016, deaths among people not wearing seat belts increased 9 percent.
“Wearing a seat belt is the single most important step you can take to protect yourself in a crash, and in Texas it’s the law,” said Texas Department of Transportation Executive Director James Bass. “People make a lot of excuses for not buckling up, but those excuses will not save your life or prevent you from getting a ticket. The fact is, it only takes a few seconds to buckle up and it could mean the difference between life and death.”
According to NHTSA, since its inception 15 years ago, the Texas “Click It or Ticket” campaign has not only saved thousands of lives but also prevented more than 86,000 serious injuries and saved Texas more than $19.3 billion in related economic costs. When the “Click It or Ticket” campaign launched in 2002, only 76 percent of Texans used their seat belts. Today, nearly 92 percent buckle up, but 8 percent still don’t and the number of people who don’t buckle up doubles to 16 percent at night.
In 2016, 994 people died because they weren’t wearing seat belts – an increase of 9 percent over the 908 unbelted fatalities recorded in 2015.
Wearing a seat belt helps keep occupants from being ejected in a crash and increases the chances of surviving by 45 percent in a car, and up to 60 percent in a truck. In Texas, the law requires everyone in a vehicle to buckle up or face fines and court costs up to $200. Children younger than 8 years must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they’re taller than 4 feet 9 inches. If they aren’t properly restrained, the driver faces fines up to $250 plus court costs.
Along with TxDOT’s annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign effort, police departments in Texas and across the nation will step up their enforcement efforts from May 22 to June 4.