The Texas Department of Transportation kicks off its 7th annual statewide Click It or Ticket campaign with a stern reminder to Texas motorists: if you haven’t gotten into the habit of buckling up, it can cost you a fine of up to $200.

Thousands of state troopers, police officers and sheriff’s deputies will be on Texas streets and highways between May 19 and June 1, including the Memorial Day holiday week-end, issuing citations to drivers who aren’t buckled up and whose children aren’t properly restrained. This year, law enforcement will also pay extra attention to front seat-passengers who are not wearing safety belts.

While more than 92 percent of Texas drivers buckle up, passengers are lagging behind when it comes to using safety belts. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, only 87 percent of passengers in Texas use a safety belt, and that number dips to 79 percent when evaluating pickup truck passengers.

“Since pickups are twice as likely as passenger vehicles to roll over in a fatal crash, we worry about the safety of people who don’t take the simple precaution of buckling up when they’re in a truck,” said Carlos Lopez, TxDOT’s Traffic Operations Director. “Wearing a safety belt reduces the risks of dying in a pickup rollover crash by as much as 80 percent.”

Safety advocates report that drivers and passengers who buckle up have a 50 percent better chance of surviving serious traffic collisions and avoiding serious injuries. Since the Click It or Ticket campaign was first launched in Texas in 2002, there have been an estimated 1,600 fewer traffic fatalities in Texas and 37,000 fewer injuries as a result of increased safety belt use.

“The simple act of buckling up is the easiest, least expensive and most effective way to prevent traffic deaths and injuries,” said Lopez. “It also can keep you from getting a ticket.”

Among partners joining TxDOT in the campaign are the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, local law enforcement agencies across the state, the Texas Department of State Health Services, the Texas Municipal Police Association, AAA Texas and the National Safety Council.