Starting next month, you better buckle up, even in the back seat

Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

Texas law already requires buckling up in the front seat, and starting September 1, it’ll be the law to do so in the back seat, too.

The change affects people 17 and older; those 16 and under are already required to wear a seat belt in the back seat.

Getting the measure passed into law was something of a bumpy. ride. that involved Austin’s state senator and police chief.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo, who is in his 24th year in law enforcement, said that years of seeing crash scenes in which seat belts made a critical difference inspired him to push the bill at the Capitol.

He said he was especially moved by a crash that happened in late April, after he’d begun lobbying for the measure. Round Rock High School student Raven Mayes, a member of the Marine Corps Junior ROTC and the Dragonettes Dance Team, died after the SUV she was riding in crashed into an 18-wheeler and rolled on Interstate 35. Mayes, riding in the back seat, was ejected, Acevedo said.

Statewide in 2008, 183 people, died — and 4,046 were injured — while riding without a seat belt in the back seat of a vehicle that crashed; according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

As of June 2008, 20 states and the District of Columbia required adults to use seat belts in all seats, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Offenders — drivers or passengers, depending on the situation — could be fined $25 to $50 if an adult is not buckled up in the back seat. Offenders can already be fined $100 to $200 if a child is not buckled up in the back seat.

Electronic Stability Control

Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) selectively applies brakes to individual wheels to help keep the vehicle under control when swerving to avoid an accident or cornering on slippery pavement, and it can help a vehicle stay out of a situation that could lead to a rollover.

By model year 2012, the government will require automakers to include ESC on passenger vehicles. If all cars had ESC, some 10,000 lives a year could be saved, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Current equipped models are involved in 36 percent fewer fatal passenger-car crashes and 63 percent fewer fatal SUV, van, and pickup-truck crashes than vehicles without ESC, federal officials say. Unfortunately, stability control is available mainly on higher-priced vehicles; many small, inexpensive cars don’t offer it.

ESC is so important that Consumer Reports calls it the “single greatest advance in auto safety since the safety belt.” In fact, Consumer Reports, which has been rating cars since 1948, believes ESC is so critical to the safety of all drivers and passengers that they’ve revised their rating system to give it greater weight.

New signs to memorialize DWI wreck victims

Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

A new state program will allow friends and relatives of people killed in drunken driving wrecks in Texas to buy memorial signs that will be placed near the crash site for a year.

The $300 signs will be 42 inches high and 48 inches wide, with a blue background and white lettering and have the victim’s name, the wreck date, and the phrases “Please Don’t Drink and Drive” and “In Memory of” on them.  The $300 covers the cost of making the sign and putting it up which will be placed as close as possible to the crash site.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, Texas had more than 1,670 fatalities in 2006 that involved drivers who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The program applies only to people killed by impaired drivers.  Impaired drivers who were killed in a crash will not be eligible.  Also, to be eligible, the victims must have been killed on a state-maintained road.

Drunken Drivers Kill More People in Texas than in Any Other State

Last Updated on July 31st, 2017

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Texas led the country last year in the number of drunken driving fatalities with 1,354 drunken driving deaths last year (up from 34 in 2005).

Texas tied Arizona and Kansas for the largest increase in the number of fatalities while Utah, Kansas, and Iowa had the largest percentage increase.

According to the Department of Transportation, there were 13,470 deaths nationwide involving drivers or motorcycle operators with blood-alcohol levels of .08 or higher last year, the legal limit for adults in the United States. That was a slight drop from the 13,582 fatalities the year before.

Twenty-two states had more drunken driving fatalities than in the previous year while the numbers fell in 28 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Florida saw the largest drop in the number of drunken driving deaths, down 147 from its 2005 total of 1,106.

Federal transportation officials announced the statistics as they unveiled an $11 million nationwide advertising campaign against drunk driving, under the slogan “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest.” They also announced plans to launch a national law enforcement crackdown.

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 97 percent of Americans view drunk driving as a threat to their families and themselves.

Some of the worst accidents I have seen or heard of involve drunk drivers and it is unbelievable that over 13,000 people have to pay the ultimate price for another person’s poor decisions.