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TxDot's Click It or Ticket campaign begins, Brazos Valley Mother shares importance of seat belts

Posted at 8:49 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 22:01:27-04

BRYAN, TEXAS — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates since Click It or Ticket's inception, in 2002, 6,234 lives have been saved, including the prevention of over 100,000 serious injuries.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, no matter what type of vehicle you drive, one of the safest choices drivers and riders can make is to buckle up.

If you ask Pam Todaro, a Brazos County Mother, she will tell you that seat belts, save lives.

"They prevented my girls from getting thrown into the windshield and holding them secure in their seats. Had they not have them on, their injuries would have been more severe. Who knows what would have happened, but definitely it did prevent them from being seriously, seriously, injured," Pam Todaro, Mother of daughters in a car accident in Bryan.

Both of Pam's daughters, Sailor and Skye, were involved in a car crash in Bryan, in December. The collision totaled their car and left them hurt.

"An older gentleman pulled out in front of them wanting to turn left in front of them instead of yielding the right of way. My daughter saw him coming and saw he wasn't going to slow down, right at the intersection on Texas Ave by the police department. She went to the outside lane to try and avoid him. He T-boned her car, basically hit her in her driver side door," Todaro says as she recalls the accident.

One daughter had an injury to their arm, along with a chipped tooth, the other, their back, but both, luckily, had seat belts on.

Their Mom, Pam, credits the restraints for the injuries not being worse than they were. She knows the safety they provide.

"With my girls having lost their brother to his drunk driving situation and knowing that if he would have had his seat belt on... he would have survived his crash. He would have lived that, had he just had his seat belt on," Todaro added.

Todaro is a mom who is on alert when her kids are on the road, more so than most parents, Todaro lost her son to a car accident a couple of years ago and when she gets that scary call, emotions come flooding in.

"My senses are already heightened. I think the worst, especially having lost Dillon that's one of the things I stress to my girls because I taught Sailor her parent driver course and I teach this driver reality education course about making sure you have your seat belts on," she added.

Todaro is working for Texas A&M's AgriLife Extension Service advocating for safer driving. She is a Program Coordinator working in the Reality Educational Driver Program.

Another individual, enforcing buckling up in a different way, is John Mendoza, current Chief Deputy with the Milam County Sheriff's Office.

Mendoza has experience transporting those injured as a former paramedic and firefighter and now in law enforcement investigating crashes, he too, has responded to the worst of what unrestrained crashes can bring.

"You have everything from the driver, the passenger, to passengers in the back and children with booster and car seats. Everybody has to have that security. When a crash happens, you never know where you may end up. The vehicle is going to be in motion until it stops and you may end up where it stops," Mendoza said.

Mendoza says the whole purpose of a seat belt is to save your life.

"Nobody is going to predict the wreck they are going to be in. It all happens so fast and so unexpectedly. So for the people who aren't seat belted in or are thinking they are just going around the block to get something, then come to find out they didn't make it back home because something happened that they weren't expecting and worst-case scenario they could get really injured," Mendoza added.

"All it takes is a turn of the corner, an intersection, or someone behind you. You need to be driving in the defensive mode, you never know what may cross in front of you," he added.

TxDot says while nearly 91% of Texans are buckling up, there are still 9% of folks who don't. Click It or Ticket is happening now until June 6th, urging Texans to buckle up.

In Texas, everyone in a vehicle is required to buckle up or face court costs up to $200, at minimum.

The TxDOT Bryan District says in 2020, there were 83 motor vehicle traffic crashes involving unrestrained occupants sustaining either fatal or serious injuries.

Of those involved, in those accidents, there were 30 fatalities and 64 had serious injuries.

TxDOT says wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying by 45% for people in the front seat of passenger cars and for those in pickups, seat belts reduce the risk of dying by 60%.