More East Texans dying in crashes for not wearing seatbelts

Local News

LUFKIN, Texas (KETK)- More people are dying in Texas for not wearing their seatbelt.

In the Lufkin district, there was a 38% increase in the number of fatalities related to individuals not buckling up in their vehicles from 2019 to 2020.

In 2019, there were 29 fatal crashes involving people not wearing their seatbelt and 40 fatal wrecks in 2020.

Two years ago, there were 51 people who were seriously injured for being unbuckled and the following year there were 55 people who were hurt in wrecks.

These numbers are increasing in 2021, but the fatalities can be avoided, according to officials.

“The seatbelt should be worn across the shoulder and low on the hips. It allows your body to help ride down those crash forces. Otherwise, you become a projectile in your vehicle,” said Sergeant Jean Dark, with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Rhonda Oaks, with TxDOT also shared important tips for families, so they can keep young drivers safe on the roads.

“Teenage drivers are usually pretty careful, but they are easily distracted. I want to encourage parents to sit down with those teenagers. They are young drivers, new drivers and they are excited about getting out into the world in their vehicle. But, talk to them about slowing down and staying alert, about buckling up and about putting the phone away while you are behind the wheel,” said Rhonda Oaks, with TxDOT.

The number of fatalities in the state related to unbuckled motorists also increased by 16% from 2019 to 2020.

926 people lost their lives for this reason in 2019, and 1,073 passed away in 2020.

“Putting on a seat belt takes only a few seconds and it is the best defense we have should a crash occur,” added Oaks. “Buckling up reduces the risk of dying in a crash by up to 45% for front seat vehicle passengers and up to 60% for those riding in a pickup truck.”

Due to these unfortunate statistics, TxDOT is encouraging drivers to wear their seatbelts when they go out on the roads this summer.

Texas law states that everyone must wear their seatbelt or they may be fined up to $200.

Children under the age of 8 need to be placed in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. If a child is not in a proper seat, the driver can be fined up to $250.

To have a child safety seat or booster seat properly installed or checked, or for information about obtaining one, contact or call (936) 633-4303.

November 7, 2000 was the last deathless day on Texas roadways. #EndTheStreakTX asks all Texans to commit to driving safely to help end the streak of daily deaths on Texas roadways, said TxDOT.

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