Released by TxDOT.
Beginning May 3, TxDOT is kicking off its annual "Click It or Ticket" safety belt awareness campaign (www.texasclickitorticket.com).
Law enforcement officers will be out in full force throughout Texas during the enforcement period of the campaign, ticketing drivers and passengers for not wearing their safety belts or not properly buckling up their children.
This year, TxDOT is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its campaign. By all accounts, there is much to celebrate. In the decade since the campaign began in the Lone Star State, the percentage of Texans buckling up has gone from 76 percent in 2002 to 93.8 percent today, according to the Texas Transportation Institute. Experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimate that this increase 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.
Far from resting on its laurels, however, TxDOT is committed to getting ALL Texans into the habit of buckling up.
Despite an overall downward trend in fatalities between 2003 and 2009, traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for those between one and 44 years of age in Texas. In 2009 in Texas, more than 3,000 people died in fatal collisions on Texas streets and highways, and just under half were not buckled up. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent, and in pickups, that number increases to 60 percent, due to the fact that pickup trucks are more likely to roll over in a crash than passenger cars.
This year's campaign could result in more citations than ever before. Many drivers and passengers are still unaware of recent safety belt requirements enacted into law in 2009. All passengers in the back seat must now be buckled up, and children younger than 8 years old have to ride in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. Fines range from $25 to $250 plus court costs.