This week marks the beginning of the 12th annual “Click It or Ticket” campaign in Austin and around the State of Texas. The campaign will run through Memorial Day weekend. During this period, law enforcement says that officers will be on the lookout for anyone not wearing a seat belt. They report that particular attention will be paid to teenage drivers and those in pickup trucks with passengers. Last year, over 21,000 seat belt tickets were issued, but with an increase of 11% in traffic deaths in 2012, enforcement is likely to be particularly aggressive.
Laws requiring everyone in a vehicle to buckle up (with booster seats or child safety seats for children under 4’9” tall) have been on the books for years, and the campaign dates back to 2002. At that time, it was estimated that only about 75% of Texans used seat belts; today, that number has increased to 94%. A violation could cost you $200 plus court fees.
There are a number of myths that have grown up around the use of seatbelts. They include the following:
- Myth no. 1: Seat belts are not necessary for local trips at relatively low speeds. In fact, most fatal accidents occur within 25 miles of home, with driving speeds of under 40 miles per hour.
- Myth no. 2: Wearing a seat belt will trap you in the car if there is a fire or if you are under water. Only about a half a percent of all accidents involve fire or water. You’re much more likely to be saved if you wear a seat belt.
- Myth no. 3: There is no need for a seat belt if your car is equipped with air bags. This is simply wrong. Indeed, air bags are less effective, and can even cause injury, if deployed when an occupant is not wearing a seat belt.
These myths, we think, are really just excuses – and lame ones at that – to justify buckling up. So remember, whatever your view on the seat belt issue, that the Austin PD is on the lookout. If you don’t click it, it could cost you!
The Law Office of Matthew Shrum, P.L.L.C.
505 West 15th Street
Austin, TX 78701