According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2013, we had almost 5.7 million traffic collisions in the United States, which led to 21,132 fatalities, 3,208 of which were children, teens, and young adults.
In 2013, car accidents were the #1 cause of death for four-year-olds, and the second leading cause of death for three-year-olds and children ages 5 to 14. That same year, car accidents were the leading cause of death for 15 to 20 year-olds, the NHTSA reports.
Importance of Seat Belts
The NHTSA contends that the most effective way for people to prevent injuries and deaths is for drivers and passengers to be appropriately restrained in seat belts. For younger children, they must be properly restrained in a rear or forward-facing child safety seat.
The NHTSA estimates that when front seat occupants wear their lap and shoulder belts correctly, it reduces the fatal injury rate by 45 percent, and it reduces the risk of moderate to severe injuries by 50 percent.
If you’re an occupant in a light truck, the safety benefits are even greater. The NHTSA estimates that when front occupants correctly wear their lap and shoulder belts in a light truck, their risk of death is reduced by 60 percent and their risk of sustaining moderate to critical injuries is reduced by 65 percent.
Now that we know how important seat belts are, what does Texas law say about wearing seat belts?
Texas’ Seat Belt Laws
Like other states, Texas has adopted seat belt laws, which can be found under Chapter 545 of the Transportation Code. Under Section 545.413, a person breaks the law if he or she is 15 years of age or older, and is riding in a passenger vehicle that is equipped with seat belts, but he or she is NOT wearing one.
It is also against the law to allow a child under the age of 17 to ride in a vehicle without wearing a seat belt, providing the vehicle is equipped with safety belts. So parents, don’t move the vehicle out of park until all of the children in the car are buckled up!
Under Sec. 545.413(d), the offense of not wearing a seat belt is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $50.