Seatbelts are an essential safety feature in passenger vehicles. During a crash, a seatbelt holds passengers against their seat, absorbing some impact and preventing the person from flying through the windshield or front seat. While some people are skeptical of seat belts’ efficacy, it is essential for Texas drivers and passengers to wear their seatbelts to prevent injuries and avoid legal penalties. Crash data indicates that drivers are 45-50% more likely to survive a car accident if they wear their seatbelts for every trip.
Texas ranks seventh in the United States for seatbelt use, with 93.7% of Texas motorists using their seatbelts correctly according to the Texas Transportation Institute. This number has grown in recent years, and Texas law enforcement officers are keen for any violations of the state’s “click it or ticket” policy. If a police officer pulls you over in Texas for any traffic violation and you are not wearing your seatbelt, you’ll receive a fine as well as additional penalties for whatever violation prompted the stop.
Texas law enforcement officers issue tickets for up to $250 for seatbelt violations. It’s vital for drivers to remember this does not only apply to them. If police find a passenger, especially a child, not wearing a seatbelt, it can lead to heavy fines and possibly even criminal charges. Children under eight years old must ride in a child safety seat until they are at least four feet and nine inches tall. Infants and younger children should remain in rear-facing car seats until they are too tall to face the rear of the vehicle. Allowing a child who is too young or too small to sit with an adult-sized seatbelt puts the child at risk. Such behavior could mean child endangerment charges against the driver.
How Seatbelts Help
In a car accident, the impact of a crash can send car occupants flying if they aren’t wearing seatbelts. A properly secured seatbelt fitted across the top of the thighs and across the chest will contract upon impact, holding passengers against their seat. This is one of the reasons why children should remain in child safety seats or booster seats for as long as possible. Children ages 10 to 12 may be large enough to technically sit safely in a car’s passenger seats, but the seatbelt may rest uncomfortably. Children who find their seatbelts uncomfortable may adjust them into unsafe positions, such as across the stomach or under the arm instead of across the shoulder. These adjustments can cause severe injuries during an accident, so parents should always ensure older children wear their seatbelts correctly during every trip.
Some drivers speed, do not engage their turn signals, or perform other unsafe maneuvers on the road that lead to police patrols pulling them over for citations. When police stop these drivers to issue tickets, the penalties are even higher if they were not wearing their seatbelts. Police will continue to enforce the Texas seatbelt laws to prevent vehicle deaths and serious injuries. In 2016 alone, 2,500 Texas motorists died or suffered serious injuries due to their failure to wear seatbelts. Avoid becoming a statistic by wearing a seatbelt for every road trip.
Source: Attorney Brian White
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