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Law enforcement from the four state area came together at Bi-State in Texarkana Monday to help kick off the "Click It or Ticket/Border to Border" program for 2019, promoting how using seat belts can save lives.

Stepped-up enforcement of seat belt laws between now and June 2 is a key component of the agencies' annual safety campaign, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. Safety officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying in a car crash by 45 percent and up to 60 percent in a pickup truck.

"While many drivers and passengers have made a habit of buckling up, we still see an alarming number of nighttime motorists and pickup truck drivers and passengers who are lagging behind the rest of the state in seat belt use," said Irene Webster, Traffic Safety Specialist for TxDOT in Atlanta. "That's unfortunate because the few seconds it takes to fasten your seat belt can mean the difference between life and death in a crash. We never enjoy giving tickets, but if doing so gets someone to buckle up and that saves his or her life, then it's worth it."

According to recent TxDOT crash data, 982 people who weren't wearing seat belts were killed last year in crashes on Texas roads. Nighttime is a particularly deadly time. In 2018, there were more than 2,000 fatalities and almost 7,000 serious injuries between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m.

State law requires everyone in a vehicle to buckle up or face fines and court costs of up to $200. Children younger than 8 years must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they're taller than 4 feet 9 inches.

To learn more about Click It or Ticket, visit texasclickitorticket.com.

—From TxDOT

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