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Buckle up back there

Texas’ seat belt law is about to change.

Texas law already requires buckling up in the front seat, and starting Sept. 1, it’ll be the law to do so in the back seat, too.

The change affects people 17 and older; those 16 and under are already required to wear a seat belt in the back seat.

Getting the measure passed into law was something of a bumpy ride that involved Austin’s state senator and police chief.


Statewide in 2008, 183 people died — and 4,046 were injured — while riding without a seat belt in the back seat of a vehicle that crashed, according to the Texas Department of Transportation.

As of June 2008, 20 states and the District of Columbia required adults to use seat belts in all seats, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

During the legislative session, [Austin Police Chief Art] Acevedo testified before a Senate committee and the bill advanced, but by late in the session, it appeared to be in trouble.

It was a measure “we were able to pass in the Senate, but started running against the time clock in the House,” Watson said.

So Watson tacked his bill onto another measure that requires people in 15-passenger vans to wear seat belts or use child safety seats.

That measure, House Bill 537 by Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, passed with the back seat belt provision attached, and Gov. Rick Perry signed it into law.

Offenders — drivers or passengers, depending on the situation — could be fined $25 to $50 if an adult is not buckled up in the back seat, said Tela Mange, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Public Safety. Offenders can already be fined $100 to $200 if a child is not buckled up in the back seat, she said.

I managed to miss hearing about this during the session, but my buddy Matt sent me this link, and I’m glad he did. I suppose there are still some folks who think we never should have passed the law mandating seat belt usage in the front seat, but I can’t remember the last time I heard from one of them. Either this will bring them back out of the woodwork, or enough time has passed to render this more or less inert as an issue. Whatever the case, I think it’s a good idea, and about the simplest thing you can do to improve your own personal safety when in a car.

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One Comment

  1. Jim Mearkle says:

    Some years ago, our friends across the pond ran a very convincing public service announcement on the subject of rear seat seatbelts. The Brits are firmly in the ‘grab the guts and hearts and minds will follow” school when it comes to public safety, so folks may not want to watch this right before bedtime: