SAN ANTONIO – The Texas Department of Transportation says that wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying in a vehicle crash by up to 45 percent. Despite this, many drivers and passengers still choose not to use their seat belt.
In fact, more than 1,200 unbuckled drivers and passengers died in the year 2022 — and that’s up 2.5% from the year before.
As a result, TxDOT is once again launching their “Click it or Ticket” campaign to help keep local drivers and passengers safe.
“The front driver’s side tire blew out and we jumped a culvert and hit a rock wall embankment and flipped one time and over and landed upside down,” Ethan Mitchell, the survivor of a terrifying crash 14 years ago said.
The wreck in 2009 left a lasting impression on Ethan and his passenger, Trey.
“My buddy Trey was in the vehicle with me and we both come to and we were hanging upside down by our seatbelts. And they they saved our lives,” Mitchell said.
EMS rushed them to the emergency room where, thanks to the seatbelts, the two men were treated for minor injuries.
“The only reason why I survived that crash was because I was buckled up,” Mitchell said.
As for the “Click It or Ticket” campaign, there was a truck held up in the air in front of the Tobin Center, and the straps that are holding up the truck in mid air is the same material that seat belts are actually made of.
“It is the absolute best safety device that we have. Over the years, I’ve worked thousands of crashes and have a lot of experience in traffic and traffic investigations. And time and time again, we see horrific crashes with no injuries, because people wore their seatbelt,” Captain Michael Starnes, traffic and emergency operations section commander said.
Starnes said it is a common problem officers see all too often and one that can easily be solved.
“90 percent of people now, the studies tell us wear their seatbelts. 10 percent. Texas is a big state. That’s a lot of people not wearing their seat belts,” Starnes said.
And of course, if you don’t buckle up there will be repercussions.
“Make sure you click it or ticket. Our officers are out there looking for you and you will get one,” Starnes said.
As for Ethan, he has a message for anyone who thinks taking the small amount of time to buckle up is an inconvenience.
“No matter what -- anybody in the vehicle and at all times everyone needs to be buckled up because you just never know whenever it can save your life,” Mitchell said.