To ensure a safe holiday season, the Texas Department of Transportation’s annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign will kick off on Monday, making sure all vehicle occupants are secured in a seat belt.

“From Monday, November 16, to November 29, as we approach and celebrate Thanksgiving and more drivers take to the road, state troopers, police officers and sheriffs’ deputies statewide will step up enforcement of the state’s seat belt and child car seat laws,” said Jeff Salzgeber, representing TxDOT’s statewide campaign.

Salzgeber said state law mandates everyone in a vehicle to be properly secured, both in the front or back seat, or face fines and fees up to $200.

“Children younger than 8 years must be restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches,” he advised. “If a child isn’t secured, the driver faces fines of up to $250.”

Salzgeber said, in 2019, a total of 925 traffic fatalities throughout the state was due to an unbuckled driver or passenger.

He noted that in the Tyler/Longview area, a total of 111 vehicle traffic crashes involving unrestrained occupants, in 2019, resulted in 49 fatalities and 84 serious injuries.

“Although around nine percent of Texans do not wear a seat belt, the lack of seat belt usage was reported in 42 percent of traffic fatalities for those people who had the option to use a seat belt,” Salzgeber said, noting that excludes pedestrian, bicycle and motorcycle fatalities.

The TxDOT representative said wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying by 45 percent for front seat car passengers.

“For those in pickups, seat belts reduce the risk of dying by 60 percent since pickups are more likely to roll over than passenger vehicles,” said Salzgeber.

TxDOT officials said buckling up is one of the most simple and easiest precautions anyone can take to protect themselves and loved ones.

“Our annual Click It or Ticket campaign is about saving lives,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass stated. “While almost 91 percent of Texans have gotten into the habit of using seat belts, there are still far too many motorists who are taking unnecessary chances by not buckling up. Whether you’re the driver or a passenger, wearing a seat belt—day and night—is the single most effective way to protect yourself from serious injury or death in a crash.”

According to TxDOT, the statewide campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, which is a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on the state’s highways by making safer choices such as wearing a seat belt, abiding the speed limit, avoid texting and driving, and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

“According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Click It or Ticket initiative in Texas is estimated to have saved more than 6,234 lives, prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries, and resulted in $23.6 billion in economic savings since the campaign began in 2002,” TxDOT officials indicated.