LUFKIN – As the Click It Or Ticket safety campaign comes to a close on June 2, fatalities from unrestrained motorists have increased in the Lufkin District. State statistics for the fiscal year also show higher fatality rates in rural areas.
Seat belt usage statewide stood at 92-percent for 2017, but the Lufkin District continues to see injuries and fatalities occurring within the past few weeks that are alarming. Wearing a seat belt increases the chances of surviving a crash by 60 percent.
“In our nine-county Lufkin District, three unrestrained fatalities were recorded in a seven day period in May,” said Rhonda Oaks, public information officer. “Some of the crashes we are seeing are unexplainable, while others can be attributed to distracted driving and unrestrained motorists. Unfortunately, there are no do-overs when it comes to a crash and we believe that so many of these fatalities and serious injuries could have been avoided if a seat belt had been used.”
For the current fiscal year that began in September 2017, the Lufkin District has recorded 67 fatalities, with 22 of those unrestrained, totaling 32.8 percent. Fatality rates for 2015 stood at 22 or 27.2 percent; 2016 stood at 31 fatalities or 32 percent; 2017 stood at 34 fatalities or 38.6 percent.
Total crashes and fatalities recorded from Sept. 1, 2017 through May 25, 2018 in the Lufkin District are:
- Angelina County: 1,256 total crashes, with 16 fatalities – six fatalities (two unrestrained) in April and two in May;
- Nacogdoches County: 770 crashes, with 10 fatalities – one (unrestrained) in April and two in May;
- Polk County: 536 total crashes, with 16 fatalities – one (unrestrained) in March, three (one unrestrained) in April, and one in May;
- San Jacinto County: 278 total crashes, with five fatalities – two in April;
- Shelby County: 294 total crashes and four fatalities (one unrestrained) in March;
- San Augustine County: 81 total crashes with eight fatalities (two unrestrained) in March;
- Sabine County: 70 total crashes with four fatalities;
- Houston County: 195 total crashes with four fatalities;
- Trinity County: 82 total crashes with 0 fatalities.
In Texas, state law requires everyone in the vehicle to be secured with a seat belt no matter where they are sitting in the vehicle. Children must be properly restrained in a child safety seat appropriate for their age and size. It is a fact that seat belts save lives and protect motorists from serious injuries in a crash. That is the reason Texas has laws that require drivers and passengers to buckle up.
For more information, contact Rhonda.Oaks@txdot.gov or (936) 633-4395.
- Rhonda Oaks is the Public Information Officer for the nine-county Lufkin District of the Texas Department of Transportation. A Lufkin native, she is a graduate of Hudson High School and Angelina College. She has a background in print journalism and worked for many years as a newspaper reporter and a freelance writer. She has received eight Associated Press awards. Her articles have been published in many publications over the past 25 years.