AUSTIN -- Tuesday the Texas Department of Transportation kicked off its annual statewide Click it or Ticket seat belt awareness campaign.
This year the campaign is giving a nod to former President Lyndon B. Johnson. According to TxDOT, it was 45 years ago when seat belts made their debut when Pres. Johnson's National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and The Highway Safety Act went into effect, mandating that all automobiles have seat belts as a standard feature.
Tuesday's campaign launch featured 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.”
Initial TxDOT data from 2012 indicates 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 also are more likely than passenger cars to roll over or eject unrestrained occupants in a crash.
As part of the Click It or Ticket initiative, law enforcement officials across the state will be looking for and ticketing unbuckled drivers and passengers in an effort to raise safety awareness and prevent fatalities.
Each unbuckled occupant faces a ticket and fines up to $200, plus court costs.
This year's Click It or Ticket enforcement period dates are May 20th-June 2nd.