HARLINGEN – David and Wendy Mills are currently on a tour of Texas sharing the tragic story of their daughter Kailee.
When Kailee was 16 she took a one-mile car ride on a 30 mph road. Eager to snap a selfie of her Halloween costume with her friend, she unfastened her seat belt and the car crashed. Kailee was the only passenger without a seat belt, she was ejected from the car, the only passenger ejected from the car and the only person who died in the crash.
“Wendy and I couldn't believe our daughter had taken her seat belt off,” David Mills, a resident of Spring, Texas said. “She was one of those people who would get in the car and make sure everybody else had their seat belts on.”
The tour David and Wendy Mills also includes a sculpture called “Kailee's Crash.” The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) sculpture depicts a car in mid-air just prior to impact in which Kailee lost her life.
Click it or Ticket
The Click it or Ticket campaign has been reoccurring for the past 17 years. At the time seat belt use in Texas was approximately 3 out of every 4 people.
“Thanks to a step up in law enforcement and close to 20 years of reminders to always buckle up,” TxDOT District Engineer Pete Alvarez said. “Now 9 out of every 10 people are utilizing seat belts.”
Last year 982 people who were not buckled up died in crashes on Texas streets and highways, an increase of six percent from 2017. Seat belts prevent drivers and passengers from being ejected from a vehicle. Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of dying in a crash by 45 percent and 60 percent in a pickup truck.
No matter the facts fewer Texans are buckling up at night, even though that is when nearly 60 percent of fatal crashes occur.
The annual Click it or Ticket campaign will run from May 20 until June 2 when state and local law enforcement will increase their patrols on Texas roads. Texas law requires everyone in a vehicle to be properly buckled up or face fines and fees up to $200.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Click it or Ticket campaign has saved 5,856 lives, prevented more than 100,000 serious injuries and saved more than $21.7 billion in related economic costs from 2002 through 2018.