Texas saw a spike in the number of traffic crash fatalities of people not wearing a seat belt last year, state transportation authorities say.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) said in 2020 there was a 16% increase in deaths of unbuckled motorists. There were 1,073 fatalities in 2020 and 926 fatalities in 2019 due to people not wearing seat belts.
Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying by up to 45% for people in the front seat of passenger cars and up to 60% for people in pickup trucks, according to TxDOT.
Research shows pickup truck drivers and passengers continue to lag in seat belt use. Close to half of all pickup drivers killed in crashes last year in Texas were not wearing a seat belt. Additionally, people driving at night wear their seat belt less often, even though it’s a more dangerous time to drive. Last year, 59% of all crashes in which unbuckled drivers or passengers died occurred at night.
Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to be properly secured in the front or back seat or face fines and fees up to $200. Children younger than 8 years old must be restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. If a child isn’t secured, the driver faces fines of up to $250.
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