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Buckle up to save lives on Texas roadways

Buckle up to save lives on Texas roadways

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Nov. 7, 2000. Can you remember that far back? That was the last day Texas went without a traffic death. That means our beloved state has had least one roadway death every day for more than 7,500 days.

Many of those deaths perhaps could have been prevented if drivers paid better attention to the road. Drivers should go no more than the posted speed limit — but adjust their speed to road conditions — put down the cellphones, pay attention to the road and be prepared for anything that might happen.

According to state statistics, drivers ages 16 to 24 are involved in more distracted driving accidents than any other age group.

Jennifer Wright, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation, said, “We’re trying to end that streak. ... Distracted driving crashes are preventable almost 100 percent of the time.”

In addition to careful driving, nothing saves more lives in traffic accidents than a seat belt. Everyone in the vehicle must be properly buckled up. The Department of Transportation said wearing a seat belt can reduce the chance of dying by up to 45% for people in the front seat and up to 60% for those in the back seat. Pretty good for something that only takes a moment to accomplish.

Last year, according to the Department of Transportation, there were 83 motor vehicle traffic accidents in the Bryan-College Station area involving unrestrained occupants. Those wrecks resulted in 30 fatalities and 64 serious injuries. If only the occupants had worn a seat belt. In the entire state last year, there were 2,734 accidents in which unbuckled people died or sustained serious injuries.

Of those accidents, 59% occurred between 6 p.m. and 5:59 a.m., yet more people go unbuckled at night.

Even though fewer people were driving during the pandemic, there was a 16% increase in deaths of unbuckled people, from 926 fatalities in 2019 to 1,073 in 2020.

For some reason, drivers and passengers in pickup trucks are less likely to buckle up. Because of that, almost half of pickup truck drivers killed in crashes in Texas last year were not wearing a seat belt.

Department of Transportation Executive Director James Bass said, “This past year we have all been reminded of the simple acts we can take to protect our lives and those of our loved ones. Wearing a seat belt is the most important step we can take to protect ourselves from serious injury or even death in a traffic crash.

“Instead of putting yourself and others in danger, remember: buckle up day and night, every rider, every ride.”

As a reminder to buckle up, the Texas Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Texas Department of Public Safety sponsor the annual Click It of Ticket campaign to remind everyone to buckle up. From Monday through June 6, law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for people not wearing a seat belt.

State law requires everyone in a vehicle to be buckled up or face a fine of up to $200.

Children 8 or younger must be restrained in a properly installed child safety seat or booster seat — unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. A driver faces a fine of up to $250 if there are unrestrained children in the vehicle.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates the annual Click It or Ticket campaign has saved 6,234 lives in Texas and prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries.

No one wants to be a traffic accident statistic. By buckling up, drivers and passengers can help make sure that doesn’t happen.

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