Drivers and passengers who aren't buckled up should expect to meet Texas law enforcement officers on the side of the road through June 3, when hundreds of police agencies across the state participate in the “Click It or Ticket” enforcement mobilization.
Pickup trucks will be a particular target for enforcement because they roll over twice as often as passenger cars in fatal crashes. Wearing a safety belt reduces the risk of dying in a rollover pickup truck crash by up to 80 percent.
“Wearing a safety belt is the cheapest form of insurance,” said Col. Thomas A. Davis Jr., director of the Texas Department of Public Safety. “It just doesn't make sense not to buckle up.”
Texas law requires every person sitting in the front seat of a vehicle to wear a safety belt. The law also states that all children younger than age 17 must be secured with a safety belt, or in a child safety seat, whether they are sitting in the front or in the back seat. A child younger than 5 years old and less than 36 inches tall must be secured in a child safety seat. Drivers can be stopped and ticketed for a safety belt violation if they, or any of their passengers younger than the age of 17, are not buckled up or properly restrained.
Traffic fines for failing to use a seat belt or secure a child in a safety seat can run from $25 to $200, plus court costs.
Safety belt use in Texas continues to rise. In 2005, it was 89.9 percent overall and, in 2006, the number rose to 90.4 percent. The goal for 2007 is 91.8 percent of all passengers and drivers.
“Our true goal is 100 percent of all drivers and passengers, 100 percent of the time,” Col. Davis said. “There’s really no good reason not to click it.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety has had a zero-tolerance policy regarding seat belts and child safety seats since 1999. Drivers who are pulled over for seat belt and child safety seat violations by troopers always receive tickets for those violations.