Seat Belt Mobilization Spotlights Teen Safety
by: Pat Hernandez, May 8, 2009 11:05:43 pm
The Texas Department of Transportation is traveling to major cities across Texas to reach drivers and passengers who have not gotten into the routine of buckling up. Delvin Dennis is Houston's District Engineer with TxDot. He says motorists will be reminded that wearing seat belts not only save lives, it's the law.
"You will see our freeway message signing here during the month of May, we'll have reminders up on it. It not only tells you how long it's gonna take you to get to the next intersection, but it's gonna have reminders up there of buckle up, click it or ticket, and other sorts of reminders and messages."
Teenagers will get special attention, because young drivers are more likely to be hurt or killed in a traffic accident than any other age group. Sergio Guyardo is a junior at ChannelView high school.
"This year, Texas is joining four other states in a special effort to get 16 to 20 year old teen drivers and passengers to buckle up. As teenagers, we are in a unique position to positively influence our peers. We can also send a message home to the parents and adults in our lives that seat belts save lives and prevent serious injury."
State law says drivers and front seat passengers can be ticketed for not wearing their safety belt...AND so can drivers who do not buckle up their children. Houston Police Assistant Chief Vicki King says a grant from TxDot will enable over 400-HPD officers to work overtime in the effort.
"The Houston Police Department received a hundred and forty thousand dollars to spend over the next two weeks to put that additional 416 officers out there. They're gonna be working in four hour slots, and they're going to be working in some very unusual ways. We're not going to tell you what kind of cars we're driving, but we're gonna be looking for people who are not wearing their seat belt and you will get a ticket, no doubt about it."
Houston Police Officer JC Bailey says working traffic enforcement, there have been times when a fatality could have been avoided with a seat belt.
"Oh yeah, you shake your head a lot of times when you're going up on something. We see a lot of the fatalities that you may see with just a body being covered, but we get to see the exposed person at the time of the incident, and it's not a pretty sight."
Seat belt violators risk paying a fine ranging from 25 to 250-dollars.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.