FATALITIES CAUSED BY NO SEAT BELTS ON THE RISE

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Recently released statistics show the number of fatalities from people choosing not to wear a seat belt have risen in the Lufkin District, as well as statewide.

In the Lufkin District, there was a 38-percent increase in fatalities due to unbuckled motorists from 2019 to 2020. In 2019, there were 29 fatal crashes and 51 serious injuries associated with not wearing a seat belt. In 2020, there were 40 fatal crashes and 55 serious injuries associated with not wearing a seat belt. So far in 2021, statistics are trending upward.

Statewide, there was a 16-percent increase in fatalities associated with unbuckled motorists from 2019 to 2020. In 2019, there were 926 fatalities associated with not wearing a seat belt, compared to 2020, when fatalities increased to 1,073.

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

With summer driving season in full swing, TxDOT is urging drivers to buckle up. Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to be properly secured in the front or back seat or face fines and fees up to $200. Children younger than 8 years old must be restrained in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. If a child isn’t secured, the driver faces fines of up to $250.