TEXARKANA — The Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) says that police officers across the state of Texas will be ramping up enforcement of the state’s seat belt and child car seat laws May 23 through June 5.
The transportation department says that of the 135 traffic crash fatalities reported in the TXDOT-Atlanta district alone, 50 were killed because they weren’t wearing a safety belt. 79 people were seriously injured. In 2021, the cities of Texarkana and Atlanta each had one fatality due to vehicle occupants not wearing a seat belt. Seven people were seriously injured in Texarkana.
“Air bags are not seat belt replacements,” Atlanta district engineer Buddy Williams said. “They can be big lifesavers, but without seat belts, air bags can be ineffective and even dangerous. Buckling up is the single most effective way to protect yourself from serious injury or death in a crash.”
Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to be properly secured in the front or back seat, or face fines and fees up to $200. Children younger than eight years old must be restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than four feet, nine inches. If a child isn’t secured, the driver faces fines of up to $250.
Across the state in 2021, 1,226 people died in unrestrained crashes, a 14% increase from the previous year. Pickup truck drivers and passengers continue to lag in seat belt use. The number of unbelted pickup truck drivers killed in state traffic crashes increased 20% last year.
“We continue to see fewer motorists buckling up at night, and nearly 60% of all fatal crashes occur at night,” said Atlanta district traffic safety specialist Kristy Whisenhunt. “Research shows that drivers and passengers are less likely to buckle up between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.,”
From 2002 to 2021, the Click It or Ticket initiative in Texas is estimated to have saved 6,972 lives and prevented 120,000 serious injuries.
The last day without a death on Texas roadways was Nov. 7, 2000. #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth campaign, asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.