5/19/2008Texas DOT Kicks Off Annual Advertising Campaign
Texas Department of Transportation kicks spends thousands on traffic ticket campaign despite claim to be out of money.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) today kicked off its annual Click It or Ticket campaign. The program, which runs through June 1, supports a state and local police drive to hand out as many $200 tickets as possible to motorists who either forget to wear a seatbelt or make a personal choice not to do so. Although the agency has claimed to lack funding to expand the state's road network, it has created a lavish advertising campaign to promote the ticketing effort.
Earlier this month, a 192 foot by 30 foot sign reading, "Click It or Ticket" was draped over the new Monarch high-rise apartment building in downtown Austin. Taxpayers paid $21,000 to hang the sign for a few weeks on the luxury building. In January 2005, TxDOT began printing up decorative wraps for its fleet of 17,000 Ford F-150 pickups. The wraps contained inspirational messages such as: "Buckle up your truck."
With the support of groups like the American Automobile Association (AAA) and grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Click It or Ticket program generates millions in ticket revenue and increased insurance surcharges each year. About thirteen percent of Texas motorists decline to wear a seatbelt.
In February, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst (R) and House Speaker Tom Craddick (R) grew suspicious about TxDOT's claims to be broke and ordered an official investigation of the TxDOT finances (view letter). Some have suggested the agency has pled poverty in order to secure support for a plan to convert existing freeways into toll roads.