Safety belts save lives and help prevent serious injuries from automobile crashes. Law enforcement officers nationwide spend two weeks around Memorial Day targeting drivers and passengers not wearing their safety belts. Violators can face up to a $250 fine.
Texas’ Click It or Ticket (CIOT) campaign achieved a significant milestone this year — 10 years of success. Since the campaign began, safety-belt use in Texas has reached record levels.
Based on annual, on-location surveys conducted immediately following the CIOT campaign — which this year ran from May 23 through June 5 — Texas Transportation Institute Senior Research Scientist Katie Womack and her team determined that 93.68 percent of drivers and their front-seat passengers are buckling up. Last year’s results were statistically the same at 93.84 percent.
When CIOT began, only 76 percent of Texas drivers and front-seat passengers buckled up. Last year’s number reached an all-time high. (Over the past 10 years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, increased safety-belt use in Texas has saved 2,843 lives and prevented 48,000 people from suffering serious injuries.) The decade of progress can be seen in the chart in this article.
“After 10 years of Click It or Ticket, we’ve seen firsthand that the message is working,” Womack says. “I think what has been very effective in the campaign — aside from the fact that people know that safety belts save lives — is that drivers and their passengers do not want to get a ticket. Clearly that has been a motivator in changing behavior.”
Womack was surprised when a teenager in a recent focus group (unrelated to CIOT) commented: “I remember the first time I heard ‘Click It or Ticket.’ I thought it was just the coolest phrase ever.” Womack was impressed that the campaign reaches teenagers as well as adults.
The outreach portion of the CIOT campaign took on extra significance for the anniversary. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) developed a website, Facebook page, YouTube commercials, numerous public service announcements and even an 18-foot-by-7-foot sculpture highlighting the number of lives saved: 2,843. The sculpture traveled to 12 Texas cities for press events.
“We are pleased that the messages are reaching so many people, and that we were able to maintain our high level of safety belt use over the last year,” TxDOT Traffic Safety Director Terry Pence says. “It means that lives are continually being saved. The challenge as we go forward is continuing this trend, and we are going to target those areas that we know could improve.”
Based on Womack’s safety-belt surveys, Pence will continue to target those who aren’t using their safety belts as much as the rest of the population, specifically people in rural areas, pickup truck drivers and their passengers, and younger drivers.