LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) annual Click It or Ticket campaign isn’t just reminding drivers to buckle their seat belts, it’s also bringing awareness to an issue for drivers of one particular vehicle.
In 2018, there was an increase in the number of people who died while not wearing their seatbelts. TxDOT says that almost 1,000 people died because they weren’t buckled up.
It’s even worse for those in trucks: Nearly half of the deaths from those in pickups were not wearing their seatbelt. In 2018, of the 529 pickup drivers killed statewide in a crash, 258 were not wearing their seatbelt; an increase of 49 percent.
“I think because pickup trucks, people think of them as being heavier vehicles -- they’re safer in this big, heavy vehicle -- they just choose not to buckle up,” said Rhonda Oaks, TxDOT Lufkin spokesperson. “When they make that choice, the likelihood of a pickup truck rolling over in a crash is high.”
Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected from a vehicle. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying in a crash by 45 percent and 60 percent in a pickup truck.
Oaks added that the number of pickup truck drivers killed while not wearing a safety belt also rose 19 percent from 2017 to 2018.
TxDOT’s Lufkin district will release all of their 2018 statistics for the state, the district, and the city of Lufkin during Wednesday’s Click It or Ticket kickoff event. Oaks said the numbers did not look great, and she hoped they would serve as a reality check for drivers.
“If we get the message out there and somebody wears their seatbelts, that may save their lives, then it’s definitely worth, and we’ll do it all the time if we can,” said Oaks.
Law enforcement across the state will be out in force during the Click It or Ticket initiative, looking for drivers and passengers who are not wearing their seatbelts.
Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to be properly buckled up or face fines and fees up to $200.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Click it or Ticket campaign has saved 5,856 lives, prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries and saved more than $21.7 billion in related economic costs from 2002 through 2018.