Police Crack Down On Seatbelt Violators

Texas leads the nation in traffic fatalities, and nearly one in four Texans still don't wear their seatbelt. As a result, today begins a two-week campaign called "Click It Or Ticket".

"We're set on issuing tickets because we believe that's going to save some lives," said Tyler police officer Shane Jasper. He normally works the night shift. But today, he's one of several extra officers on the streets looking for seatbelt and child safety seat violations.

"We do it near the holiday season because that's when a lot of people are going to do a lot of traveling," added Jasper, "and, with a lot of traveling there's going to be a lot of accidents."

During the last "Click It Or Ticket" campaign, state troopers, police officers, and sheriff deputies issued more than 50,000 citations for safety belt, and child safety seat violations.

"It's better to write a ticket," said Jasper, "instead of calling out the justice of the peace because we've got a dead body on the scene."

Texas law requires all back seat passengers, under 17 wear seatbelts. And as one woman found out today, the law applies to all front seat passengers as well.

"I just didn't think about it," the passenger said. "It didn't even cross my mind. You know what, I probably won't forget it again."

The ongoing "Click It Or Ticket" campaign has helped raise the Texas safety belt use to 81%. Safety officials, like Officer Jasper say, just 19% more to go. Including court costs, the fine for driving without a seatbelt is $116. If it's a child without a seatbelt, the fine goes up to $185.