Information for the News Media

August 30, 1999

DPS Gears Up For Seat Belt Enforcement

The Department of Public Safety will begin enforcing the revised seat belt law September 1.

The new law requires that children under 15 years of age be properly restrained throughout the vehicle. (Current law already imposes the same requirement for children under four.) Senate Bill 60 was sponsored by State Sen. Mike Moncrief, D-Fort Worth, and was co-authored by Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, and Sen. Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso.

"There just hasn’t been enough publicity about the new law yet," said DPS Director Col. Dudley M. Thomas. "We will be stopping motorists for violating the new seat belt law and taking appropriate enforcement action.

"We urge Texans to start complying with the new law today—seat belts should be a no-brainer by now," said Thomas. "We’re also asking adults to set a good example by wearing their safety belts at all times."

Some other facts about the new seat belt law:

  • The new law also extends the seat belt requirement to one-ton pickups for children under 15. Children under four already were covered.
  • The law clarifies "seat belt" as meaning both the lap and shoulder belt when the vehicle is so equipped.
  • Punishment for violating the law is the same—a fine of between $25 and $50.
  • For those 15 years of age and older, safety belts are required only in the front seat of vehicles. However, the DPS strongly recommends universal seat belt usage.
  • Fifty-two percent of those killed in traffic crashes in 1997 were not wearing seat belts. (1998 figures are not yet available.)
  • The law requiring children under two years of age to be in an approved car safety seat remains in effect.