This month marks the 15th anniversary of the Click It or Ticket campaign urging Texans to buckle up.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that since its inception, the campaign has resulted in 5,068 fewer traffic fatalities, but from 2015 to 2016, deaths among people not wearing seatbelts increased 9 percent.
"Wearing a seatbelt is the single most important step you can take to protect yourself in a crash, and in Texas, it's the law," said James Bass, Texas Department of Transportation executive director. "People make a lot of excuses for not buckling up, but those excuses will not save your life or prevent you from getting a ticket. The fact is, it only takes a few seconds to buckle up, and it could mean the difference between life and death."
According to NHTSA, the Texas Click It or Ticket also prevented more than 86,000 serious injuries and saved Texas more than $19.3 billion in related economic costs. When the campaign launched in 2002, only 76 percent of Texans used their seatbelts. Today, nearly 92 percent buckle up, but 8 percent still don't—a number that doubles at night.
In 2016, 994 people died because they weren't wearing seatbelts—an increase of 9 percent over the 908 unbelted fatalities recorded in 2015.
Wearing a seatbelt helps keep occupants from being ejected in a crash and increases the chances of surviving by 45 percent in a car and up to 60 percent in a truck. In Texas, the law requires everyone in a vehicle to buckle up or face fines and court costs up to $200. Children younger than 8 years must be in child safety seats or booster seats unless they're taller than 4 feet, 9 inches. If they aren't properly restrained, the driver faces fines up to $250 plus court costs.
Along with TxDOT's annual Click It or Ticket campaign effort, police departments in Texas and across the nation will step up their enforcement efforts from May 22 to June 4.
To learn more about Click It or Ticket, visit texasclickitorticket.com.