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2009-05-14 digital edition

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2009-05-14 / General Stories

Gripping Reminders Urge Motorists to Buckle Up

Against the backdrop of their mangled pickup, two Salado teens joined transportation officials and law enforcement officers at the Capitol Thursday to launch Texas' biggest-ever Click It or Ticket campaign. Ethan Mitchell, 17, and Trey Mohler, 14, walked away from a potentially deadly rollover crash with only minor injuries and talked about how safety belts saved their lives.

The high school students are part of the Texas Department of Transportation's latest public education campaign designed to reach 18- to 34-year-old motorists, a group more likely to be involved in traffic crashes and less likely to buckle up than other age groups.

TxDOT also is going to other great lengths to call attention to the importance of buckling up. Beginning May 8, five inflatable characters-including Godzilla, a rock star icon and a rubber duckwill travel to major cities across Texas. Looming more than two stories tall, these unconventional messengers will warn Texans that thousands of state troopers, police officers and sheriff's deputies will be on Texas streets and highways between May 18 and 31, including the Memorial Day holiday weekend, to enforce the state's safety belt laws.

"We are happy that more than 90 percent of Texans obey the law and buckle up, but we're pulling out the stops to reach pickup drivers and passengers, teen drivers and other hold-outs who haven't gotten into the habit of using their safety belts," said John Barton, TxDOT's Assistant Executive Director for Engineering Operations. "Buckling up is the single, easiest thing motorists can do to protect themselves from death or serious injury if they're involved in a crash."

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. Safety belt violations can result in fines ranging from $25 to $200.

The eighth annual Click It or Ticket enforcement effort is supported through partnerships with the Department of Public Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, as well as local law enforcement agencies.

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