When I was growing up, my siblings and I were absolutely required to wear seatbelts at all times when traveling in a car. Considering the way my mother drove, that’s a very good thing. Back then, it was a matter of personal choice; today it’s the law. Electronic signs along the freeways I drive to work proclaim “click it or ticket”, the slogan law enforcement agencies are using to remind people to wear their seatbelts and officers are indeed handing out tickets for failing to comply. As one Texas ten-year-old found out, that applies to kids as well as adults.
Marshall May, a fourth-grader from Leander, Texas, near Austin, wanted to get some fresh air, so he stuck he head out the window as he rode along. That’s when his seatbelt “slipped” — we have a problem with my kids’ seatbelts “slipping” too — and a police officer pulled over the minivan and gave the boy a ticket. According to the boy, the officer told him “you were wearing your seat belt incorrectly. Sorry, but click it or ticket.”
“I was really scared,” the boy recalled. “He made me sign my signature, but I don’t have a signature because I’m 10 years old.” According to Texas law, the adult driving should have received the ticket, but the boy’s aunt, who was in the driver’s seat, was not cited. The police department has taken steps to have the ticket dismissed but final authority for that is up to the municipal court.
I agree with the law that the driver must be held responsible, but I also like the idea of the kid getting a “ticket” — especially if it’s not necessarily the real thing. I’m sure the cost and paperwork involved in having some special kid-tickets on hand to give kids a bit of a scare would be prohibitive, but I suspect there are a lot of parents whose kids aren’t so crazy about seatbelts that would certainly appreciate them.