AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - The Texas Department of Transportation has unveiled a new sculpture as part of its annual "Click It or Ticket" campaign to show drivers the cost of not wearing a seatbelt.
"Kailee's Crash" depicts a car in mid-air just prior to impact in a crash that cost 16-year-old Kailee Mills of Spring her life.
According to TxDOT, Kailee removed her seat belt for a moment to take a selfie with a friend in the back seat. The driver lost control of the vehicle and Kailee was thrown to her death while her friends, who were all wearing their seat belts, sustained only minor injuries.
Her parents David and Wendy Mills are traveling across the state with the sculpture to tell Kailee's story and urge drivers to wear their seat belts. The sculpture will be on display at campaign events across the state this month.
“We are sharing Kailee’s story in hopes that we can convince drivers and passengers of all ages to always wear their seat belts. We don’t want any other family to go through the pain and grief of losing a loved one like we have,” said David Mills in a TxDOT release. “Kailee always wore her seat belt, but she unbuckled it for just a few seconds to take a selfie with friends, and in an instant she was gone.”
According to TxDOT in 2018, 982 people not wearing their seat belts died in crashes on Texas streets and highways, up from 6 percent the previous year. Wearing a seat belt decreases the risk of dying in a crash by 45 percent, says TxDOT, a number which increases to 60 percent for pickup truck crashes. Fewer drivers buckle up at night, even though TxDOT says that is when 60 percent of fatal crashes occur.
TxDOT also has announced a statewide increase in enforcement of Texas' seat belt laws between Monday, May 20 and Sunday, June 2 as part of the annual campaign. According to state law, everyone in a vehicle, even those in the backseat, must be wearing their seat belt or face fines and fees up to $200. Children under the age of eight, unless taller than 4 feet 9 inches, must be in a child safety seat or booster seat or the driver will face fines up to $250.
To learn more about the campaign, visit the website.