Monday, May 22 marks the beginning of the Texas Department of Transportation's two-week "Click It Or Ticket" campaign. Until June 4, Texas law enforcement officers will actively ticket drivers and passengers who are not wearing seatbelts. People whose young children are not riding in appropriate child-safety seats or booster seats will also be subject to active ticketing. Fines for offenders are expected to run about $200 per infraction. This will be the 15th year TxDOT has participated in the nationwide program; the department estimates that as many as 1 in 10 Texans do not wear their seatbelts while driving.
Grossman Law supports traffic safety initiatives--who doesn't? Of course we encourage readers to buckle up. With that said, though, don't do it to avoid the stupid fine. Do it for your own health and safety. Tickets are a pain in the neck, no doubt about it, but an initiative like this shouldn't even be necessary. They shouldn't have to threaten people with fines and embarrassment. Five seconds' effort yields a monumental increase in the likelihood of surviving a collision--between 50 and 80 percent improvement, depending on the type of vehicle you're driving.
Here at the firm we see a lot of car wreck cases, and they often come with a number of photos from the crash site. There's plenty of ways to look at their details, but they can also be divided into two simple categories: ones in which the injured parties were wearing seatbelts, and ones in which they definitely were not.
The ones that were buckled in don't always escape completely unharmed, of course, but their injuries are usually much easier to recover from. But in the photos where people are not wearing their seatbelts, well... sometimes you can make out what looks like a human body part from among the pile of gore. Physics are extremely unkind to unrestrained drivers who come to sudden stops.
I can see the merit in the libertarian perspective that the government should not have the authority to make an individual protect themselves from harm, just as I can see merit in the opposite view that says the body politic has the authority to impose seatbelt laws on individuals because we all ultimately collectively bear the financial burden of people who get tossed through a windshield. We can discuss the pros and cons until the cows come home, but, again, I implore you to buckle up solely for your own benefit, or one day pictures of your mutilated corpse may well be filed away at a personal injury law firm.