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900+ Texas traffic accident deaths in 2017 included unrestrained travelers

Posted: 4:51 AM, Feb 07, 2019
Updated: 2019-02-07 11:00:24-05

As hard as it is to believe, there are still some people who don’t wear a seatbelt. And the number of deaths where people were not wearing a seatbelt is shocking.

In 2016 more than 1,000 people in Texas died in vehicle crashes from not wearing their seatbelt. The Texas Department of Transportation is working hard to get that message across to drivers and passengers who aren’t strapped in with a seatbelt.

Wearing a seatbelt is simple, effective, and it can save your life.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, seatbelt usage soared past 90 percent in 2017, but there were still 929 people who were not wearing seatbelts and died in Texas traffic accidents.

“As far as the total number you are looking at, 2017 had 2,010 people that sustained serious injuries that were involved in crashes,  whether they were unrestrained or small children to older adults,” DPS Sgt. Nathan Brandley said. “As compared to 2016, we had 2,047, so the number did come down some, but still it is way too high.”

Brandley says the challenge is encouraging the drivers and riders who don’t use a safety belt to change their behavior.

“We go to schools, businesses, and organizations. We talk about the risk factors of not wearing your seatbelts and always putting them on in the vehicle,” Brandley said. “And number one, it is the driver’s responsibility to make sure everybody is buckled up inside the car correctly.”

Seatbelts can reduce crash fatalities by as much as 60 percent.

“People that are ejected, either they succumb to their injuries from hitting the ground or the vehicle rolling over on top of them or another vehicle coming along and striking them,” Brandley said. “You want to be inside that vehicle and not be thrown around inside of it or out of it while you are in a crash.”

Brandley also says that 57 percent of fatalities happen at night, and 50 percent of those accidents involved people who weren’t wearing seatbelts.

Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to wear a seatbelt. The fine for not buckling up can reach $200, while the fine for adults who do not properly secure children under the age of 8 in a child safety seat or booster seat can be up to $250.

Texas Seat Belt Laws Regarding Children:

In Texas, all children younger than 8 years old, unless the child is taller than 4 feet, 9 inches are required by law to be in an appropriate child safety seat system when riding in a passenger vehicle.

The child safety seat must be installed according to manufacturer instructions and recommendations.

Children who are 8 years or older, regardless of their height or weight, may use factory installed adult seatbelt.

However, studies show that children under 4’9″ are safer in a child seat, until they can properly fit the standard automobile seatbelt.

Texas law does not mandate where a child may ride in a vehicle, however, it does require that all child safety seats must be installed according to the seat manufacturer’s owners manual.

Rear-facing infant seats are prohibited from use in the front seat of any vehicle with a passenger air bag unless the vehicle is equipped with a manual “off” air-bag switch.

In general, children under the age of 12 are almost always safer when they ride in the rear seat of a passenger vehicle with a properly installed child safety seat system.

All infant or child passenger restraint systems must meet or exceed federal standards for crash-tested restraint systems as set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Seatbelts were first required by federal law, under Title 49 of the United States Code, Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, on Jan. 1, 1968.

This law required all vehicles to be equipped with seat belts in each designated seating position.