Texas Teens Click It or Ticket

16 October 2009

Illustration of a three-point seatbelt.Image via Wikipedia

On September 1, 2009 a new seat belt law went into affect, so now you must wear a seat belt regardless of age or where you are sitting in the car. I'll be honest and say that this has been hard to get accustomed to. I always wear my seat belt in the front of the car, it is a habit I don't even have to think about. But, it is hard for me to remember to do it in the back seat. We all need to remember to fasten those belts no matter where we are sitting. Not doing so could be disastrous.

Texas Department of Transportation has asked me to share the following information with you about the new seat belt law and especially National Teen Driver Safety Week, which is October 19 – 25. Please discuss with your family, and especially your young drivers, how important seat belts are.

Texas Law Enforcement Brings “Click It or Ticket” Enforcement to the Back Seat to Prevent Teen Traffic Fatalities

Message to Teens: If You Let Simple Safety Take a “Backseat,” It’ll Cost You, Especially During Teen Driver Safety Week

[Austin, October 13] – Local and state law enforcement have been encouraging drivers for years to Click It or Ticket. TxDOT has teamed up with Texas law enforcement who will be on the roads October 19 – 25 for National Teen Driver Safety Week to remind teens to buckle up, no matter where they’re riding in the car. TxDOT observational surveys have shown that Texas kids and teens ages 5 – 16 aren’t buckling up 71.1 percent of the time in the back seat, versus 21.7 percent of the time in the front seat. Clearly, now is the time to enforce stricter safety belt laws, which can save countless lives in the coming years.

As of September 1, 2009 all occupants of a vehicle, no matter their age, must be secured by a safety belt, including back seat passengers. Unbuckled passengers – not the drivers – could face fines ranging from $25 up to $250. This law addresses the alarming fact that teens especially are still not buckling up when they get in the car. A recent car crash in Palestine, TX just last month killed three teens and injured three others. Unfortunately, only the driver was wearing a safety belt, which could’ve helped save some of the passengers who were less fortunate and thrown from the vehicle. Earlier this spring in Round Rock, TX, another teen car crash killed one and injured four students. The teen who died was sitting in the back seat without wearing a safety belt.

According to the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University, more than 5,000 16 – 19 year-olds die in car crashes each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that more than half of young drivers killed in 2007 did not use their safety belts at the time of the crashes. The bottom line: teens are not buckling up when they drive or ride in cars, and they are paying with their lives.

“The damage teens can do to themselves or other passengers in the car if they are unbuckled during a crash is catastrophic and this new law serves as a reminder to buckle up 100 percent of the time,” said Michelle L. Releford, public information officer for the Texas Department of Transportation. “We want to remind everyone to Click It or Ticket, no matter where they are sitting.”

To help spread the news on the back seat law, TxDOT has created the teen site www.seatbeltsrock.com. Teens can hear “shout outs” from favorite local teen radio DJs and will also be able to take a short quiz and watch a rollover video demonstration for a chance to win a Gibson Les Paul guitar, a $250 gift card to The Buckle or one of two iPod Touches, made possible by State Farm.

Additionally, TxDOT is encouraging top teen radio DJs to give “shout outs” to the Click it or Ticket Teen campaign and the new law over the air and online on their Twitter, Facebook and MySpace profiles.

It is important to remember that buckling up doesn’t only affect the safety belt wearer. Those back seat passengers not buckled up can become a human missile during a car accident. Cracked bones, internal wounds, brain damage and even death can all happen to unbuckled passengers, even if they’re not the one behind the wheel.

“Sadly, too many teens believe that if they’re riding in the back seat, they don’t need to wear a safety belt – that they are somehow better protected. That is simply not the case,” said Deputy Chief Julian Bernal for the Dallas Police Department. “We will be out in force across Texas ensuring that all drivers and passengers are buckling up, both to abide by the law and to protect themselves in case of a serious crash. We hope that the added enforcement during National Teen Driver Safety Week along with incentives we’re providing to teens will serve as the reminder that they need to stay safe on the roads.”

For more information on Click It or Ticket, please visit www.seatbeltsrock.com.


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