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Click It or Ticket now includes backseat passengers

The 9th annual Click It or Ticket, Texas Department of Transportation, safety campaign is underway. Law enforcement officials say the warning to drivers is clear: fasten your safety belts or expect to get a ticket.

This year there are more laws and regulations to abide by. In 2009, several new state transportation laws were enacted.

Now all passengers in the back seat must also be buckled up and children younger than 8-years-old have to ride in a child safety seat or booster seat. The only exception for a child younger than eight is if they’re taller than 4’9″. Fines for the new laws range from $25 to $250, plus court costs.

In a press release statement TxDOT’s Traffic Operations Division Director, Carol Rawson, said, «Whether you’re the driver or a passenger in the front or back seat, every adult and every child in the vehicle must be properly restrained.»

As part of the Click It or Ticket campaign, thousands of state troopers will join Texas police officers and sheriffs’ deputies increasing enforcement of safety belt laws between May 24 and June 6, including the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

More than 1,000 Texans killed in car crashes in 2008 were not wearing safety belts.

Last year in Texas, more than 3,400 people died in fatal collisions. Wearing a safety belt increases the odds of surviving a crash by more than 50-percent, and in pickups, that number increases to 80-percent. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, motorists least likely to buckle up continue to include men, teenage boys and pickup drivers and passengers.

«Buckling up can not only save you from getting an expensive ticket, it can also save your life,» said Rawson.

Texas is ahead of the national safety belt usage rate of 84-percent, but TxDOT estimates there are still more than a million Texas motorists who have yet to get into the habit of always buckling up.