AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) only 76% of Texans used their seatbelts in 2002.
Today that number has risen by 15%, and while a large majority of Texas drivers wear their seatbelts, nearly 9% percent do not. That is where the “Click It or Ticket” campaign comes in.
“It’s just a campaign to remind people how important it is for them to wear their seatbelt to be safe,” said Sgt. Carla Burr with the Amarillo Police Department. “The numbers show that you are much safer in a car accident, less likely to be injured, way less likely to be killed in a car accident, especially severe car accident if you have a seatbelt on.
According to the Amarillo Police Department, in Amarillo this year, there have been nine fatal crashes claiming the lives of 11 people. Four of the 11 fatalities were not wearing a seatbelt.
With a grant from TxDOT, APD will have more officers on patrol to take part in the campaign, helping to remind drivers to drive safe.
Sgt. Burr said officers be working through Memorial Day weekend, and they will be working different hours of the day and night.
Texas law requires that every person in a vehicle be secured by a safety belt. That means that even passengers in the back seat must be secured.
“Everyone is required to wear a seatbelt,” said Sgt. Burr. “Anywhere in a passenger vehicle all people have to wear a seatbelt in all the seats.”
According to TxDOT, wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying by 45% for people in the front seat of passenger cars. For those in pickups, TxDOT said seat belts reduce the risk of dying by 60% since pickups are more likely to roll over than passenger vehicles.
“The people in all of the fatalities that we work when people are ejected is because they were not wearing a seatbelt, and many times the chances of them not even being injured is decreased exponentially because they wear a seatbelt,” said Sgt. Burr. “I mean, it’s just safer. The way cars are made nowadays … your car could look like it was in the worst accident ever, and people walk away with barely a scratch. So the car manufacturers are doing this to protect us, and so this is what we’re doing on our end; reminding people that you even though it’s inconvenient, not always comfortable, it is safer to wear your seatbelt.”
Sgt. Burr added that wearing your seatbelt is not just for your safety, it is also for the safety of those around you.
“Especially if a car rolls, you’re not going to be in the same seat you were in, when that car stopped rolling. You may not be ejected out of the car, but you’re not going to be sitting where you were sitting when the car started rolling. So if there are other people in the car with you, you could potentially cause them serious injuries or kill somebody in addition to you being injured or killed as well,” said Sgt. Burr.
If you get a ticket for not being buckeled up, you face fines and cort costs of up to $200.
These laws also apply to the smallest of travelers.
Texas law requires that all children younger than 8 years old, unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches, be secured in a child safety seat whenever they ride in a vehicle. Older children who have outgrown a booster seat must be buckled with a seat belt. Failure to properly restrain a child can result in a ticket of up to $250.
The campain runs from Monday, May 24 through Sunday, June 6, but Sgt. Burr said that does not mean you can or should stop buckeling up after then.
“I mean, I think the ticket to me is enough to want to wear it, but I would really wish people would see the numbers in and do a little homework on that … Maybe this [campaign] will develop some good habits with some people.” said Sgt. Burr.
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