SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - New research from the national highway traffic safety administration shows teen drivers are twice as likely to be in a fatal crash as adults.
The Texas Department of Transportation is trying to change that with their "Teen Click it or Ticket" campaign.
A simple step like buckling up could potentially save your life.
In fact, wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying in a crash by 45 percent in a car and up to 60 percent in a pickup truck, according to TxDOT.
Kathi White with TxDOT Tyler says research shows vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers.
In 2016 in Texas, it is reported that 269 teen drivers and passengers, ages 15 to 20, were killed in traffic crashes, and 1,862 were seriously injured.
Of those killed, 42 percent were not wearing their seat belt.
White says East Texas teens' behavior matches the statewide average.
"Typically, teens feel invincible and nothing is going to happen to them," said White. "But when you look at the number, 4 out of 10 have lost their lives."
In an effort to lower these stats, TxDOT launched an awareness campaign called, "Teen Click it or Ticket." High schools across Texas, including here in East Texas, have received material to display across campus like posters and educational videos to bring awareness.
White says the campaign will also focus on peer-to-peer outreach.
"If you look at the program, teens listen to each other more. It's the norm," said White. "So, if you have a group of teens in the program saying it to their friends we stand a good chance."
Even though these efforts are happening at school White encourages parents to speak to their children. Texas law requires all drivers and passengers to wear a seat belt.
Citations can be issued to unbuckled drivers and passengers, including those in the back seat.