The Lubbock District TxDOT has officially kicked off its 12th Annual Click It or Ticket campaign with a special news conference this morning outside of the Museum of Texas Tech University. Local DPS and LPD officers, City Councilman Floyd Price as well as local and state TxDOT representatives were all on hand for the event.
"We'll be hiring extra officers to come out and that will be their sole responsibility, to seek out and ticket those people that are not in compliance with the state's seat belt laws," said LPD accident investigation unit Sgt. Robert Hook.
He has been a part of many accident investigations and he says it's very obvious from looking at an accident if people in the car were buckled in.
"The injuries are consistently much more serious if the occupants were not belted in," he said. "We've had several over the last couple of years that were fatal that I don't believe would've been bad had the persons been seat belted in."
This year's campaign honors President Lyndon B. 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, which first debuted 45 years ago.
As a part of the 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. By Texas law, all occupants of a vehicle, including back seat passengers, must wear a seat belt. Each unbuckled person faces a ticket and fines up to $200, plus court costs. Last year, more than 21,200 seat belt citations were issued during the Click It or Ticket campaign.
Traffic safety director for TxDOT Terry Pence says in the 12 years the initiative has been going on, they have seen remarkable improvement from drivers state-wide.
"When we started the Click It or Ticket campaign in 2002, safety belt usage in Texas was 76.1%. In this last year after the Click It or Ticket campaign, we were at 94%, which was a record high for Texas," he said.
Pence says that each time we gain a percentage point, approximately 25 lives are saved and around 586 serious injuries are prevented.
"Over those 12 years, the National Highway Transportation Safety Authority estimates that we saved around 3,363 lives in Texas alone," he says.
Officers will be out looking for violators between May 20th and June 2nd.
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