San Angelo Police urge teen drivers to wear seat belts

San Angelo Police DepartmentSan Angelo Police Department

Late Friday, the San Angelo Police Department’s Public Information Office released the following message to teen drivers on social media: “The San Angelo Police Department’s Traffic Section has an important message for teen drivers: In the last 7 days, the San Angelo Police Department has responded to 3 different motor vehicle crashes where teens have sustained significant injuries from being thrown into windshields and being ejected from vehicles.

A total of 10 teens, ages 18 and under, have been involved in these crashes. Of those 10 teens, 7 were not wearing their seatbelts.

For one of the 3 teens who wore their seatbelt, it saved their life. The San Angelo Police Department urges citizens of all ages, especially teens, to drive safely and wear your seatbelt.”

Following is the Texas seatbelt law:

Texas Seatbelt Laws explained (Source: Texas Department of Public Safety)

Chapter 545. Operation and Movement of Vehicles
§ 545.413. Safety Belts; Offense.

(a) A person commits an offense if:

(1) the person:

(A) is at least 15 years of age;

(B) is riding in a passenger vehicle while the vehicle is being operated;

(C) is occupying a seat that is equipped with a safety belt; and

(D) is not secured by a safety belt; or

(2) as the operator of a school bus equipped with a safety belt for the operator’s seat, the person is not secured by the safety belt.

(b) A person commits an offense if the person:

(1) operates a passenger vehicle that is equipped with safety belts; and

(2) allows a child who is younger than 17 years of age and who is not required to be secured in a child passenger safety seat system under Section 545.412(a) to ride in the vehicle without requiring the child to be secured by a safety belt, provided the child is occupying a seat that is equipped with a safety belt.

(b-1) A person commits an offense if the person allows a child who is younger than 17 years of age and who is not required to be secured in a child passenger safety seat system under Section 545.412(a) to ride in a passenger van designed to transport 15 or fewer passengers, including the driver, without securing the child individually by a safety belt, if the child is occupying a seat that is equipped with a safety belt.

(c) A passenger vehicle or a seat in a passenger vehicle is considered to be equipped with a safety belt if the vehicle is required under Section 547.601 to be equipped with safety belts.

(d) An offense under Subsection (a) is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $25 or more than $50. An offense under Subsection (b) is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $200.

(e) It is a defense to prosecution under this section that:

(1) the person possesses a written statement from a licensed physician stating that for a medical reason the person should not wear a safety belt;

(2) the person presents to the court, not later than the 10th day after the date of the offense, a statement from a licensed physician stating that for a medical reason the person should not wear a safety belt;

(3) the person is employed by the United States Postal Service and performing a duty for that agency that requires the operator to service postal boxes from a vehicle or that requires frequent entry into and exit from a vehicle;

(4) the person is engaged in the actual delivery of newspapers from a vehicle or is performing newspaper delivery duties that require frequent entry into and exit from a vehicle;

(5) the person is employed by a public or private utility company and is engaged in the reading of meters or performing a similar duty for that company requiring the operator to frequently enter into and exit from a vehicle;

(6) the person is operating a commercial vehicle registered as a farm vehicle under the provisions of Section 502.433 that does not have a gross weight, registered weight, or gross weight rating of 48,000 pounds or more; or

(7) the person is the operator of or a passenger in a vehicle used exclusively to transport solid waste and performing duties that require frequent entry into and exit from the vehicle.

(f) The department shall develop and implement an educational program to encourage the wearing of safety belts and to emphasize:

(1) the effectiveness of safety belts and other restraint devices in reducing the risk of harm to passengers in motor vehicles; and

(2) the requirements of this section and the penalty for noncompliance.