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Deaths of Texans not wearing seat belts spike 16% in 2020

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AUSTIN Despite a drop in the number of traffic crashes throughout the year, 2020 saw a spike in the number of fatalities overall and deaths of people in Texas from not wearing a seat belt. That’s why TxDOT is reminding everyone that buckling up is the best defense in a crash.

Last year, the simple act of buckling up saved many Texans from death or serious injury in crashes. Unfortunately, in 2020 there was a 16% increase in deaths of unbuckled motorists. There were 1,073 fatalities in 2020 and 926 fatalities in 2019 due to people not wearing seat belts.

Putting on a seat belt only takes a few seconds and doing so reduces the risk of dying by up to 45% for people in the front seat of passenger cars and up to 60% for people in pickup trucks.

“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,” said TxDOT Executive Director James Bass. “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.”

Research shows pickup truck drivers and passengers continue to lag in seat belt use. Close to half of all pickup drivers killed in crashes last year in Texas were not wearing a seat belt. Additionally, people driving at night wear their seat belt less often, even though it’s a more dangerous time to drive. Last year, 59% of all crashes in which unbuckled drivers or passengers died occurred at night.

From May 24 to June 6, as the summer driving season starts and families head out to celebrate Memorial Day, Texas officers and deputies will step up enforcement of the state’s seat belt and child car seat laws. Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to be properly secured in the front or back seat or face fines and fees up to $200. Children younger than 8 years old must be restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. If a child isn’t secured, the driver faces fines of up to $250.

From 2002 to 2019, the Click It or Ticket initiative in Texas is estimated to have saved more than 6,000 lives, prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries, and resulted in $23.6 billion in economic savings, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Click It or Ticket campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel such as wearing a seat belt, driving the speed limit, never texting and driving, and never driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. November 7, 2000 was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways.

For media inquiries, contact TxDOT Media Relations at [email protected] or (512) 463-8700.

The information contained in this report represents reportable data collected from the Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report (CR-3). This information was received and processed by the department as of March 9, 2021.

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