Austin, Tx (KWKT) — Texans wear their belt buckles with a certain Lone Star pride, but it's the buckles in the their vehicles that could save their lives. These buckles are more functionable than fashionable. Seat belts were debuted 45 years ago when Lyndon B. Johnson's National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and The Highway Safety Act went in effect saying that all vehicles must have seat belts as a standard feature.
To honor President Johnson's pioneering dedication to safety, the Texas Department of Transportation launched it's 12th annual Click It or Ticket campaign at the LBJ Library in Austin with a car show demonstrating the progression of seat belts through the ages.
"The cost of not wearing seat belts is far greater than a ticket or fine," said Phil Wilson, TxDOT executive director. "Simply put, a seat belt could save your life. Public awareness is working, but we still see some teenagers, pickup truck passengers, and rural Texans who aren't buckling up."
Texas has made seat belt safety a major priority and is proud to be one of the most buckled up states in the nation. When the Click It or Ticket campaign began in 2002, only 76 percent of Texans buckled up. Today, 94 percent are wearing seat belts. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates the Click It or Ticket campaign has save nearly 3,700 lives and prevented more than 50,000 serious injuries since its launch. The increase in seat belt usage also has saved an estimated $10 billion in wages and productivity losses, medical expenses, insurance premiums, taxes, and other costs.
There is still more work to be done though with the lives of Texans at stake. TxDOT data from 2012 indicates that traffic related fatalities in Texas are up by 11 percent. In 2012, there were 3,400 fatalities due to traffic crashes across the state.
Data also shows that only 82 percent of pickup passengers are buckled when riding compared to more than 91 percent of passengers riding in cars. Pickups are also more likely than passenger cars to roll over or eject unrestrained occupants in a crash.
Law enforcement officials across the state will be looking for an ticketing unbuckled drivers and passengers in an effort to raise safety awareness and prevent fatalities. By law, all occupants of a vehicle must wear a seat belt. Each unbuckled occupants faces a ticket and fines up to $200, plus court costs. More than 21,200 seat belt citations were issued during the Click It or Ticket campaign last year.
This year's campaign period is from May 20th to June 2nd.
For more information contact TxDOT Media Relations at MediaRelations@txdot.gov or 512-463-8700.