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The Evolution of Seat Belt Laws in Texas

by sem on April 29, 2013

Texas Seat Belt Law History

Even since the inception of seat belt laws, enforcing proper seat belt safety has been a serious issue in the United States. And while Texas doesn’t have the lowest seat belt usage rate (ahem, Wyoming), they are pretty far from the highest. And the law has evolved in a way that will hopefully fix that.

You may be wondering why the Texas safety belt laws are such a big deal in the first place. According to a 2012 analysis by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), the state has had at least one automobile-related fatality each day since November 7, 2000. That’s 12 years of daily deaths!

On top of that, the TxDOT has also isolated the 3 leading causes of auto fatalities. They are:

  1. Drinking and driving
  2. Failing to wear a seat belt
  3. Distracted driving

While the reasons themselves may not be surprising, the sheer volume of fatal accidents should be a wakeup call for how severe the problem is.

HOW HAS THE TEXAS SAFETY BELT LAW EVOLVED?

The most recent Texas seat belt law amendment (September of 2010) states that all passengers inside a motor vehicle must be secured by a safety belt, regardless of the passenger’s age or the location of the seat. Before this passed, the law stipulated that only front-seat passengers and children in the back needed to buckle up.

Even before that regulation was altered, a child-specific amendment was made to the Texas seat belt law. The requirements, which mandated that a child be secured in an approved safety seat, changed from “less than 5 years old and less than 36 inches tall” to “less than 8 years old and less than 4 feet 9 inches (57 inches) tall”.

WHEN WERE THE FIRST SEAT BELT LAWS CREATED?

Wearing your seat belt is one of the most important factors in saving your life in a car accident. Yet while it may seem crazy that in this day and age people still can’t remember (or be bothered) to fasten their seat belts, the safety laws that seem obvious in 2013 don’t date back as far as you might think.

Did you know that seat belts weren’t even offered on automobiles until the mid-1950s? And even then, the trend did not immediately take off. It wasn’t until 1968 that automobiles were required to offer seat belts. And actually wearing your seat belt didn’t become a law in the United States until 1984!

With that in mind, it’s understandable that your grandfather may have gotten in the habit of driving unbuckled. But guess what, Grandpa? It’s a habit you can afford to break.

HOW CAN I GET BETTER AT WEARING MY SAFETY BELT?

Seat belt violations have been proven time and again to be one of the leading causes of automobile accident fatalities in Texas, and law enforcement officials are working hard to change that. If you want to learn more, or if you want to help teach a friend or family member, you can enroll in a Texas Seat Belt Safety Course. Breaking the bad habit of forgetting your seat belt could one day save your life!


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