EAST TEXAS (KTRE) - From May 23 to June 5, DPS troopers and law enforcement officers across the state are participating in the 10th annual "Click It or Ticket" enforcement mobilization.
"State law requires everyone in the vehicle to be restrained no matter where they are seated," said Assistant Director David G. Baker, who is the Chief of the Texas Highway Patrol. "Seat belts save lives, and that is the primary reason to buckle up, but we will have a zero-tolerance policy during this period, and violators will be ticketed if need be."
Since the "Click It or Ticket" campaign began in 2002, Texas seat belt usage has climbed from 76.1 percent to 93.8 percent. Experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimate that this increase has resulted in 2,843 fewer traffic fatalities and 48,000 fewer serious injuries in Texas the past 10 years.
"We want to make sure that people realize that there will be a lot of traffic on the road. We need to be a real good defensive driver, observe the speed limits, do not drink and drive, make sure you fasten your seatbelts, make sure you buckle-up and make sure your kids are secure in the car as well," advises Trooper Greg Sanches, DPS Lufkin.
Despite these gains, just under half of the 3,089 people who died in Texas traffic crashes in 2009 were not properly buckled up, and traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for people between one and 44 years of age.
"Driving is still dangerous business. Why wouldn't you take advantage of the most basic thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones?" said Baker.
Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent. That number increases to 60 percent in pickups, because they are more likely to roll over in a crash. (Pickup drivers and passengers still lag behind in seat belt usage compared with motorists in cars.)
State law requires everyone in a vehicle to be secured by a safety belt. Also, children younger than 8 years old must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet, 9 inches. Fines can range up to $250, plus court costs.