During the week of May 11 to 17, the Department of Public Safety and law enforcement agencies across the state are reminding Texas teenagers to buckle up and make sure their passengers are buckled up.

Almost 15 percent of Texas teens don’t wear a safety belt when they are passengers, even though Texas law states that anyone younger than 17 must be wearing a safety belt, or in a child safety seat, whether they are sitting in the front or back seat. This means that drivers can be stopped and ticketed for a safety belt violation if they, or any of their passengers under the age of 17, are not buckled up or properly restrained.

Young drivers are more likely to be hurt or killed in a traffic crash than any other age group, and most teens that die in crashes are not buckled up.

“Many teens don’t think about the danger they face when they get in a vehicle and don’t buckle up,” said Texas Highway Patrol Chief David Baker. “But motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15 to 20-year-olds in the United States.”

Texas law also requires every person sitting in the front seat of a vehicle to wear a safety belt. In addition, a child less than five years old and less than 36 inches tall must be secured in a child safety seat. A safety belt violation can result in fines of up to $200, plus additional court costs.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has had a zero-tolerance policy regarding seat belts and child safety seats since 1999. Drivers who are pulled over for seat belt and child safety seat violations by troopers always receive tickets for those violations.