“FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELT”
We all know we’re supposed to buckle up in the car, whether we’re the driver or a passenger. Warnings of all kinds remind us to fasten our seat belts, including lights, bells, dings, verbal warnings—and sometimes our cars won’t even start until the seat belts are fastened.
But what about other people who are sometimes in our cars? You know, the people or children in our back seats. Are there any bells, dings, and warnings to remind rear passengers to buckle up? Not necessarily.
Sometimes it’s not top of mind for drivers to ask or double check to see if passengers in the back of their vehicle are buckled in. That’s where we come in—to remind everyone that it’s ILLEGAL to be unbuckled in either the front or back seat, and it’s punishable by fines and fees up to $200.1
Children younger than 8 years old must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. Fines issued to drivers for unrestrained children in their vehicle can be as high as $250 plus court costs.2
The safest place for children to ride in a vehicle is the back seat, and all children should be securely fastened in an appropriate safety seat in the back of the vehicle until they reach the age of 13.3
State and national data back up TxDOT’s “Click It or Ticket” campaign, which focuses on the laws mandating drivers and front and rear passengers to buckle up.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2014 there were 9,385 unbelted passenger vehicle occupants killed in crashes on our nation’s roads. In fact, from 2010 to 2014, they saved nearly 63,000 lives. And in 2014, an additional 2,814 lives could have been saved if all unrestrained occupants involved in fatal crashes had worn their seat belts4
If that’s not enough, these facts will drive home the importance of everyone buckling up at all times:5
- Unbelted backseat passengers can become projectiles in a car crash. They can be tossed around inside the vehicle and can even injure or kill those in the front seat.
- Riders in the back seat who use lap and shoulder belts are 44 percent more likely to survive in a crash than unrestrained occupants in passenger cars. In passenger vans and SUVs, the likelihood increases to 73 percent.
- In 2015, there were 2,369 motor vehicle traffic crashes that involved unrestrained occupants who sustained fatal or serious injuries. Overall in 2015, 3,518 traffic fatalities occurred in our state.
- In 2015, of the 467 pickup truck drivers killed in Texas in a traffic crash, 216 were not wearing a seat belt.
- Wearing a seat belt helps keep occupants from being ejected in a crash and increases the chances of surviving by 45 percent. In pickup trucks, that number jumps to 60 percent, as those vehicles are twice as likely as cars to roll over in a crash.
1(TxDOT Facts 2016)
2(Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3) 2015)
5(TxDOT Facts 2016)