People who made their way to Palo Duro Canyon Tuesday morning witnessed more than a scenic view- they saw a pickup truck suspended over the canyon's edge.
The Texas Department of Transportation teamed up with the Amarillo Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety to kick off the 2012 Click It Or Ticket campaign. The dangling Chevrolet served as an up-close-and-personal example of how strong seat belts are, as the truck was harnessed to the crane with seat belt material.
"It can make a life's worth of difference," TxDOT Director of Operations Mike Taylor said. "It saves lives. It's been proven that it has saved lives. And it's the law. So, not only does it save your life; it's going to save you a ticket."
According to TxDOT, one in four Texas vehicles is a pickup truck, and statistics show drivers of these vehicles are not as quick to buckle up. In 2011, only 80 percent of pickup truck passengers used seat belts and in 2012, one out of every two pickup truck drivers killed was not wearing a seat belt.
From May 21 to June 3, thousands of state troopers will join police officers and sheriff's deputies in ticketing drivers who are not buckled up.
"We're funding overtime, to pay overtime for the police officers in different communities to work and specifically target seat belt use and non-seat belt use," Taylor stated.
According to the Texas Transportation Institute, more than 93 percent of Texans now buckle up.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated more than 2,800 traffic fatalities have been avoided thanks to the campaign. There have also been 48,000 fewer serious injuries and state savings in associated costs of $10 billion.
Texas law requires drivers and all passengers in a vehicle to be secured by a safety belt, including adult passengers riding in the back seat. Children younger than eight years old must be in a child safety seat or booster seat unless they are taller than 4 feet 9 inches. Fines are up to $250 plus court costs.