The lack of driver and passenger safety has led to more accidents and subsequently more road deaths. The Texas Department of Transportation launched their annual Click It or Ticket campaign to encourage travelers to buckle up and avoid fatal car accidents.
According to the Texas DOT, requiring automakers to install seat belts in vehicles has had a significant impact on the drop in traffic fatalities. From the time the law was passed in 1966 until 2000, the motor vehicle death rate in the United States dropped almost 72 percent. However, early numbers show an 11 percent increase in traffic deaths from 2011 to 2012.
Officials hope that the Click it or Ticket program will alert drivers to the necessity of seat belts. Statistics show that travelers in a car wearing a seat belt are 45 percent more likely to survive a serious crash. That number increases to 60 percent for travelers in a pickup truck. The experts say that in 2012, less than 50 percent of truck drivers killed in accidents wore a seat belt.
Under Texas law, all drivers and passengers are required to wear a seat belt. Safety seats are required for children under 8 who are less than 4 feet 9 inches. An officer is permitted to pull a car over for not wearing a seat belt. More than 48,000 seat belt citations and over 17,000 child seat citations were issued by DPS just last year. Travelers can be fined anywhere from $25 to $250 for each person not wearing a belt.
A person who suffers an injury or passes away in an accident while not wearing a seat belt could be considered contributorily negligent. Texas follows a modified comparative fault system, which means that an injured party can sue regardless of whether their negligence played a role in the accident. With this system, the person will only recover damages if they are 50 percent or less at fault. The amount of damages will be reduced based on how much fault can be attributed to them.
Source: Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, “Texas Department of Public Safety launches annual Click It or Ticket campaign,” Brittany Hoover, May 15, 2013