Texas tornado-surviving teen is new face of TxDOT's 'Click It or Ticket' campaign

View The Original Article Here

TxDOT held an event on Tuesday, May 17, at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts in San Antonio to celebrate the campaign’s 20-year anniversary, while an event featuring Leon was held in Austin a day earlier. A TxDOT news release claims 6,972 people have been saved by seat belts since “Click It or Ticket” began.

Some 120,000 serious injuries and $26.3 billion in economic costs have been saved by seat belt usage as well, according to TxDOT. To commemorate the milestone, a sculpture of 6,972 was built and brought to both events.

“Since its launch in 2002, the Texas ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign has saved nearly 7,000 lives,” says Marc Williams, TxDOT executive director, at the Austin event. “We’re proud of the work we’ve done over the decades and the countless hours put in by our law enforcement partners. But there are still far too many preventable deaths on Texas roads.”

Texas fatalities of drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts reached 1,226 in 2021, up 14% from the previous year, according to the release. TxDOT data shows wearing a seat belt reduces the risk of death for people in the front seat of passenger cars by 45%. At a 60% risk reduction, the benefit is even higher for pickup trucks.

Leon found fame when a storm chaser video captured him crossing paths with a tornado while driving his truck in Round Rock March 21. 

“My truck flipped to the side and it just turned in circles,” he says in a video shared by TxDOT.

In the video of the incident, Leon’s red pickup is seen being blown onto its side and spinning before being tipped back onto its wheels by the tornado. He drove away from the tornado with minor injuries.

“It was a couple of days after that I realized that, thankful to God, I wore my seat belt that day,” Leon says. “Because if not, the accident could have been more tragic.”

The “Click It or Ticket” campaign raises awareness of seat belt safety and the potential consequences of being caught driving without a seat belt. Fines for not wearing a seat belt are up to $200, but if a child younger than 8-years-old is not secured, the fine is $250.

San Antonio Police Department Chief Bill McManus speaks at “Click It or Ticket” anniversary event, May 17.


From Monday, May 23 to June 5, TxDOT says Texas officers and deputies will increase enforcement of the seat belt and child car seat laws.