[LBJ Library photo #A703-37 by Yoichi Okamoto]

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[LBJ Library photo #A703-37 by Yoichi Okamoto] [LBJ Library photo #DIG13503-017 by Lauren Gerson] [LBJ Library photo DIG13503-020 by Lauren Gerson] [LBJ Library photo DIG13503-024 by Lauren Gerson] Bill signing: National Traffic and Motor Safety Act of 1966 and Highway Safety Act of 1966 [LBJ Library photo #3053-6a by Yoichi Okamoto or Frank Wolfe] Bill Signing: National Traffic and Motor Safety Act of 1966 and Highway Safety Act of 1966. [LBJ Library photo #A3129-12 by Yoichi Okamoto]

Click It Or Ticket Campaign celebrates LBJ Traffic Safety Legacy

May 07, 2013

Tuesday, May 7 at 10:30 a.m. 
WHERE: LBJ Fountain and LBJ Presidential Library
2313 Red River Street
Austin, TX 78705

MEDIA: Opportunity to interview:
Carol Rawson, Texas Department of Transportation
Georgia Chakiris, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Nicole Nugent Covert, Granddaughter of President Lyndon B. Johnson
TBD, Texas Department of Public Safety
TBD, Austin Police Department

AUSTIN — The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is celebrating the public safety legacy of President Johnson with the launch of its 12th annual Click It or Ticket campaign at a press conference on Tuesday (May 7). This year marks the 45th anniversary of the year when automakers were first required by legislation signed by President Johnson to install seat belts in all vehicles.

A special display of classic and modern cars and pickups—including the 1965 Corvette Stingray President Johnson bought for his daughter, Luci, the year before signing the monumental traffic safety legislation—will demonstrate the strides made over the last 45 years to produce safer vehicles. That legislation has saved hundreds of thousands of lives. The vehicles also will serve as a reminder to all Texans about the importance of using their seat belts. The campaign is placing a special emphasis on pickup trucks because seat belt use among pickup drivers and occupants continues to lag behind the rest of the state. 

By Texas law, all occupants of a vehicle, including back seat passengers, must wear a seat belt. Each unbuckled occupant faces a ticket and fines up to $200, plus court costs. Last year, more than 21,200 seat belt citations were issued during the Click It Or Ticket campaign.

For more information, contact TxDOT Media Relations at [email protected] or (512) 463-8700.

Remarks by Nicole Nugent Covert:

"I’m delighted to be here today to help mark an important part of my grandfather’s legacy, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, which among other things led to seat belts being mandatory in all cars and trucks.

Vehicle and highway safety are issues that were of critical concern to my grandfather. And, since no one could drive home a point quite like him, I’d like to invite you listen to him share some of his own words on the subject.

(Nicole Nugent Covert pauses while LBJ soundbite plays)

SOUNDBITE: [“In this century, more than one million five hundred thousand of our fellow citizens have died on our streets and our highways … nearly three times as many Americans as we have lost in all of our wars. We are going to cut down this senseless loss of life. We are going to cut down the pointless injury. We are going to cut down the heartbreak. Safety is no luxury item, no optional extra; it must be a normal cost of doing business.”]

The remarks you just heard were taken from a speech given by my grandfather as he signed the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the Highway Safety Act in 1966. They are just a few of the reasons why he was such a vocal supporter of legislation to make our nation’s cars and roads safer.

At the time he signed the legislation, our country knew more about sending a man into space then it did about protecting a family as they drove down one our nation’s highways. Safety features, such as seat belts and air bags, were not required in automobiles.

As a mother with a son who just started driving, I cannot even imagine letting him get into a car that did not have seat belts, much less drive one. I still worry every time he gets behind the wheel. However, I take great comfort because of the work done by my grandfather – his great grandfather – to make seat belts standard in all vehicles starting in 1968.

At the time he signed that legislation, my grandfather also had two children who were of driving age. One of them was my mother, Luci Baines Johnson. In 1965, a year before this legislation was passed, my mother celebrated her 18th birthday. As a present, my grandfather gave her this 1965 Corvette Stingray. My mother loved that car.

Outside the White House, Washington D.C. 06/18/1965[LBJ Library photo #A703-37 by Yoichi Okamoto]

If you look closely, you’ll notice that this car does have seat belts. However, that was pretty rare for 1965.  For most makes and models seat belts were considered an option and were installed by the dealerships at an extra cost.

My mother was only able to enjoy her sports car for a short time. Just a couple years later, after she became pregnant with my older brother, my grandfather quietly – and without discussion – swapped it out for a larger, safer sedan. That was after he had signed the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, and he had no intention of taking any chances with his daughter – or his first grandchild.

The legislation he signed on September 9, 1966, was the first to call for federally mandated vehicle safety standards and for vehicle manufacturers to include those critical safety measures in all new vehicles starting in 1968. This included seat belts.

The traffic and highway safety standards my grandfather put in place 45 years ago have now protected at least two generations of all of our families. It is up to each and every one of us to make sure the legacy he left us does not go to waste. Buckle up every time you step into a vehicle. Please make sure everyone else in the vehicle does the same.

Thank you for having me with you today and for helping me to honor the wonderful legacy of my grandfather, President Lyndon Johnson."

Outside the White House, Washington D.C. 06/18/1965 [LBJ Library photo #A703-37 by Yoichi Okamoto]

TxDOT Reminds Drivers, Passengers to Click It or Ticket to Save Lives [heraldonline.com posted on May 7, 2013]
TxDOT honors LBJ with annual seat belt campaign [kvue.com posted on May 7, 2013]
Nicole Nugent Covert: Use seat belts to help save lives, perhaps avoid fines [ElPasoTimes.com posted on June 2, 2013]