Athens Review, Athens, Texas

May 23, 2013

‘Click it or Ticket’

Law enforcement promises zero tolerance

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review

ATHENS — The Athens Police Department is part of a nationwide effort to cut down on traffic injuries and deaths by getting motorists to buckle their seat belts. It’s part of the  Click It or Ticket campaign underway through June 2.

High-visibility enforcement such as the Click It or Ticket is credited with increasing the national belt usage rate from 58 percent in 1994 to an observed usage rate of 84 percent in 2011.

“Athens motorists should be prepared to buckle up,” APD Chief Buddy Hill said. “We will be taking a zero tolerance approach on occupant protection violations.”

This is the 12th year for the Texas Department of Transportation to sponsor the seat belt campaign. Last October, TxDOT presented the Athens Police Department a $3,000 incentive award for its participation in the 2012 Click It or Ticket campaign. The funds can be used for the purchase of traffic safety-related equipment, training or a combination of the two.

Participating law enforcement officials across the state will look for and ticket unbuckled drivers and passengers in an effort to raise safety awareness and prevent fatalities. According to TxDOT, Texas law requires all occupants of a vehicle, including back seat passengers, to wear a seat belt. Failure to do so can lead to a ticket and fines up to $200, plus court costs.

“The cost of not wearing seat belts is far greater than a ticket or fine,” TxDOT Executive Director Phil Wilson said. “Simply put, a seat belt could save your life. Public awareness is working, but we still see some teenagers, pickup truck passengers and rural Texans who aren't buckling up.”

According to the National Center for Statistics and Analysis, seat belt use is higher in “primary law” states, where a driver can be pulled over strictly for not wearing a seat belt. Texas is among the 32 states in that category.

“I think the campaign is a valuable public awareness tool,” Hill said. “Anything we can do to raise awareness of the importance of occupant protection goes a long way toward saving lives.”