State launches ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign

HARLINGEN — Selena Lemus was driving home after class one day. While heading down Jackson Avenue in McAllen, everything became blurry.

A driver slammed into her car from the rear at a speed of 40 miles per hour.

Lemus, 21, was suffering from a concussion after her head whipped the steering wheel.

She said the driver was distracted from the road for text messaging while driving.

Yesterday, Lemus gave her testimony about the importance of wearing seat belts as the Texas Department of Transportation launched it’s annual statewide Click It or Ticket Campaign and awareness tour.

She told the news media if she had not been wearing her seat belt, she might have died that day.

Police departments across the nation will step up the “Click It or Ticket”

enforcement efforts from May 23 through June 5.

“With Memorial Day weekend and the summer vacation season approaching, we’re urging people to buckle their seat belts every time they get in their vehicle,” said James Bass, TxDOT executive director. “Every person in a vehicle front seat or back seat needs to buckle up. Not only is it the law, but seat belts save lives.”

Last year in Texas, 2,370 vehicle crashes involving unrestrained occupants resulted in 889 fatalities and 1,854 serious injuries. Wearing a seat belt helps keep occupants from being ejected in a crash and increases the chances of surviving by 45 percent.

“Click It or Ticket,” said Trooper Johnny Hernandez. “We’re going to make sure everyone is safely belted.”

Hernandez said between Hidalgo and Cameron counties, 3,500 tickets for no seat belt were handed out last year, and that’s too many in his book.

“This has already been a law that has been in effect for a long time,” Henandez said. “It’s a law and everybody has to comply with it because it’s going to save lives.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that since its inception, the “Click It or Ticket” campaign in Texas has resulted in 4,687 fewer traffic fatalities while preventing 79,578 serious injuries.

When “Click It or Ticket” launched in 2002, only 76 percent of Texans used their seatbelts. Today, nine out of 10 Texans buckle up.

In Texas, the law requires everyone in a vehicle to buckle up or face fines and court costs up to $200.

Children younger than 8 years old must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they’re taller than 4 feet, 9 inches.