Brent Dillard and seven of his friends were heading to the season’s first Pflugerville High School football game last year. Most of his friends were Wearing seat belts when a car sideswiped their SUV and sent them rolling down a ditch.
But the two girls who were not buckled up were ejected out the back windows and were later flown to local hospital with serious injuries. For Dillard, the lesson is simple. “Always buckle up no matter how safe you feel with the driver or the vehicle. It Can really save your life,’ he said.
The Texas Department of Transportation kicked off its seventh annual statewide Click It or Ticket campaign to raise awareness about seat belt safety as drivers hit the road this Memorial Day weekend. It is part of a national effort that will run until June 1.
Local and state police officers have also stepped up their watch to help prevent injuries and fatalities that might be caused by unsafe driving.
“We will, on average, probably have six to 10 officers day, every day, doing seat belt enforcement,” said officer Patrick Spradlin with the Austin Police Department.
The compliance rate for the City of Austin was 96 percent at the end of last year. Officials are aiming for 100 percent.
“One of the goals is to make people be familiar with the campaign, and hopefully that will translate into compliance,” said Mark Cross, a Texas Department of Transportation official.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16,000 people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2006 were not buckled up. Seat belts are estimated to have saved approximately the same number of lives that year.
Texas state law mandates that the driver, front-seat passenger and any passenger under 17 must wear seat belts at all times (in my car, all passengers wear seat belts). Not buckling up is a primary offense in Texas, which means drivers can be pulled over solely for not following seat belt safety regulations.
Over the next several months, Austin drivers will start seeing posted signs alerting them to reduced speed limits on...