I was under the impression that the majority of people that don’t wear seat belts are the elderly. Since wearing a seat belt (or what they used to call a “safety belt”) became a law in 1986, the elderly have spent most of their lives not being required to wear a seat belt, so perhaps they never really caught on or got comfortable with it. My elderly parents would drive from Illinois to Texas sans-belt (that’s French for “no belt”). My Mother says that wearing the seat belt would wrinkle her outfit. But going through the windshield would surely put a few wrinkles in her outfit and her head, etc. It seems that teen boys have adopted this attitude about not wearing seat belts. My position as a Defensive Driving Instructor does not require that I lecture or “mother” teens about wearing a seat belt. And it seems that teen girls do typically wear seat belts. So, what’s the deal with teens and seat belts?

One would think that the hefty fine alone would encourage compliance with the seat belt law. And not only the fine but since not wearing a seat belt is a moving violation, one would have the option of possibly reducing the price of the ticket and taking a defensive driving course to have the ticket dismissed. Or, if not, the points will be applied to your driving record and your insurance will increase. That would certainly modify my behavior. According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT), motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death among teenagers. And, in Texas, teen drivers have the highest incidence of unbuckled fatalities. Statistics show that in 2015, 293 teen drivers and passengers (age 15-20) died. Of those fatalities, 115 of them (39%) were not wearing seat belts.

The law in this state requires everyone in the vehicle to wear a seat belt, one seat belt for each passenger and driver in the vehicle. No more sitting on laps or sharing seat belts (i.e. no more clown car action). “Who” gets the ticket for not wearing a seatbelt in Texas, depends on their age. If anyone under 17 (under age) is not wearing a seat belt, the driver will get the citation. Anyone 17 or older (of age) will receive the citation. Although I did have an unfortunate 16 year old girl in my class who had received a citation for speeding through a 20mph school zone, and had also received two seat belt citations because her 16 year old friends were not wearing their seat belts. Although she was under 17, she still got their citations. The officer could have also cited her for having more than one non-family member under 21 in the car with her. So it could have been worse. Still, I bet her parents were not pleased. My parents would have killed me and started all over again, creating new, cheaper offspring.

Until next week…

Daun Thompson
Writer / Comedienne / Artist

Teens and Seat Belts – Comedy Defensive Driving