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TxDOT kicks off seatbelt program

By Melissa Crowe
May 22, 2012 at 12:22 a.m.

Texas Department of Transportation launched its Click it or Ticket campaign Tuesday at Victoria Mall. The mangled truck was on-site to show the life-saving importance of seatbelts.

By the Numbers

• Seatbelts result in 2,843 fewer traffic fatalities.

• Seatbelts result in 48,000 fewer serious injuries.

• Save $10 billion in associated costs.

• Seatbelt tickets can add up to $250 or more.

Source: Texas Department of Transportation

The two-ton pickup with a front end as crumpled as a sheet of discarded paper, on display Tuesday at Victoria Mall, was a somber reminder of the importance of wearing a seatbelt.

For the two teenaged occupants, and nearly 3,000 other Texans who owe their lives to seatbelts, the decision to buckle up is simple.

Area Texas Department of Transportation officials, as well as Victoria city and county leaders, are warning drivers about a zero tolerance policy regarding seatbelt use.

Edward Guerrero, a design technician at TxDOT, shared his wreck story at the Tuesday news conference.

He was three miles from the house, returning with his parents from his brother's funeral on March 3, 2007.

"I'm one of those 2,848 lives that's been saved," he said.

A vehicle entering the divided highway failed to yield and hit Guerrero's Nissan truck on his side.

He drove into a ditch, which nearly catapulted his vehicle into a home.

"If not for us wearing our seatbelts, my sisters would have been planning three more funerals," he said. There have been too many lives lost because people did not make a simple click of their seatbelt, he said.

According to statistics from TxDOT, since the Click it or Ticket campaign launched in 2007, seat belt use has risen to 93.7 percent from 76 percent. Texas now ranks seventh in the nation for seat belt use.

While seat belts are proven to save lives, buckling up also has saved Texans about $10 billion in wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, vehicle damage, employer costs, taxes, insurance premiums, travel delays and lost quality of life, said Hazel Zepeda, TxDOT traffic safety specialist.

Mayor Will Armstrong mentioned his personal experience with driving-related tragedies.

He encouraged parents and grandparents to instill good seatbelt habits early in their children.

Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O'Connor said his office has seen a significant difference since the campaign launched.

"As my mama used to tell me, it's for your own good," O'Connor said.

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