AUSTIN – It has been nearly seven years since Eden Ganzerla lost control of her car while driving to work and crashed into a retaining wall, breaking nearly every bone in her body. Since then, she has endured thousands of hours of physical, occupational and speech therapy, the result of one fateful decision to not wear her seat belt.
Ganzerla now struggles with a traumatic brain injury, speaks with the aid of a computer, and is slowly learning how to walk and talk again.
“Before the crash, Eden was very outgoing and talkative, living life to the fullest with her animals and friends,” said John Ganzerla, Eden’s father. “Now, she lives with us in Dripping Springs and is dependent on her mother and me for even the simplest everyday tasks.”
Unfortunately, choosing to not wear a seat belt is an all too common mistake in Texas. In 2022 there were 1,258 people killed who were not wearing their seat belt, a 2.5% increase from the year before.
“It’s critical for everyone to take just a few seconds to buckle up, every ride, every time,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams. “Wearing a seat belt is one of the most important precautions motorists and their passengers can take to protect themselves in a crash. Whatever reason you may have for not buckling up, I promise it’s not worth your life.”
While more than 90% of Texans make the right choice to wear a seat belt, that still means 10% of Texans make the dangerous choice to stay unprotected on the road. TxDOT’s goal is to get 100% of drivers and passengers to wear their seat belt 100% of the time.
From May 22 through June 4, including Memorial Day Weekend, law enforcement from around the state will be working overtime ticketing motorists who are not buckled up. State law requires that every person in a vehicle be secured by a seat belt whether riding in the front or back seat. Fines and court costs for failing to fasten seat belts can add up to $250 or more.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the Click It or Ticket initiative has saved more than 7,399 lives, prevented more than 120,000 serious injuries, and resulted in $28.5 billion in economic savings since its inception in 2002.
TxDOT’s Click It or Ticket campaign is a key component of #EndTheStreakTX, a broader social media and word-of-mouth effort that encourages drivers to make safer choices while behind the wheel to help end the streak of daily deaths. Nov. 7, 2000, was the last deathless day on Texas roadways.