Our state’s annual Click It or Ticket” campaign kicked off last week. It reminds us that we face a fine of $250 if we don’t wear seat belts in Texas and also lets us hear from the families of people who chose not to and lost their lives. The campaign is urgent. Almost 1,000 unbuckled drivers and passengers died in auto accidents in Texas in 2016 — up almost 100 from the year before.
Statistics show that seat belts have prevented the deaths of over 300,000 people and reduce injuries and deaths by up to 60%.
And it won’t be much of a surprise to learn that the leading group of drivers and passengers who refuse to buckle up are teenagers.
Somehow despite laws and plain common sense, there are still hundreds of thousands of people who won’t wear seat belts in Texas. As you can see from the chart below, 10% of Texans choose to ignore the obvious safety risk.
Year Seat belt use % Source
2002 80 Texas A&M Transportation Institute
2009 91 NHTSA – National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
2009 93 NHTSA
2010 94 NHTSA
2011 94 NHTSA
2012 94 NHTSA
2013 90 NHTSA
2014 90 NHTSA
2015 90 NHTSA
There are two strong reasons why you should always wear a seat belt, even if just driving a few blocks.
1. Wearing seat belts can save your life
The evidence is everywhere. The “Click It or Ticket” campaign includes a memorial sculpture that depicts a fatal 2017 Houston-area crash where a driver lost control of a sedan just as a young woman unbuckled her seat belt to take a selfie. Everyone else who was buckled sustained minor injuries but the teenager horrifically died after she was ejected from the car.
Closer to home, a series of connected accidents in North Texas showed a similar result. Months ago on a rural road outside Fort Worth, a horse was in the road according to a Star-Telegram report. An SUV and other vehicles hit the horse. The unbelted occupants of a car perished.
2. Wearing seat belts can save you a lot of money
If the thought of preventing you from serious injury or your loved ones from heartache isn’t enough, there are also serious financial considerations.
In 2015 the Texas Supreme Court changed the way courts decide liability in auto and truck accident cases. The Supreme Court held that if you fail to wear your seat belt, proof of that fact prevents you from recovering any compensation for the damages that you suffered – even if the other driver was at fault. I have had to hire accident reconstruction experts and take the depositions of witnesses and police officers to verify that my client was seat belted.
Texas law regulating seat belts and car seats
In case you are not certain what our state law is or think you are exempt, Section 545.413 of the Transportation Code requires anyone over the age of 15 to do so. The driver can also be fined if he allows his or her passenger under the age of 17 to ride without wearing a seat belt in Texas. A child under the age of eight must be secured in an approved child seat.
We can help you
If you have unfortunately been hurt in a vehicle crash, you need the advantage that comes with having a board-certified injury attorney to fight for you. Putting this wealth of knowledge and experience on your side can help you immeasurably.
Berenson Injury Law has provided effective legal representation for auto accident injury victims for nearly 40 years. We are ready to talk to you about how we can get you the compensation you deserve. For your free case review, contact us today at 1-888-801-8585 or email us.