Teen Advocates the Use of Seatbelts

Justin Sowell walks along a familiar road recalling the sunny afternoon, the day before Mother's Day when his life could have ended. "I had probably two seconds. He was going 55 to 60. You see the road where we hit. The gouges in the road. He was coming and went into my lane. I was going right here and it happened right there on the bridge. I had no where to go," recalled the graduating Nacogodoches High School senior.

Sowell's truck was totaled, but he was spared. He attributes that to seat belt use. "It locked in. It stopped me. If I didn't have it on I probably would have gone straight through the windshield."

Lt. Dan Taravella looks over photographs of the crimped truck body. He agrees a seat belt saved a life and prevented serious injury.  Taravella organizes Nacogdoches 'Click It or Ticket'.   "Texas right now has about a 90% usage compliance rate with seat belts and we would love to raise it a few more percentage points. Ultimately in an ideal world it would be 100%."

The Texas Department of Transportation's Click It or Ticket program began on Monday. Traffic and highway patrols are strictly enforcing the states' seat belt and child safety seat laws. The stepped up enforcement continues through Memorial Day weekend to June 4th.

Sowell has always used seat belts. He's the 18 year old son of Nacogdoches Police Sgt. Greg Sowell. The younger Sowell listens to both parents. "First of all my mother told me to, right, but it does keep you safe. I'm proof of that now."

Sowell is passing that advice onto friends who he'll be graduating with tomorrow. You can be assured when he takes off in his new truck on the road ahead of him he'll have his seat belt latched.