The use of seat belts is on the rise nationally, and Texas motorists are among the leaders. But not everyone is on board with this important safety habit. With the arrival of summer, and the freedom teenage drivers are given with the end of school, itís a good time for adults to emphasize again the importance of buckling up to members of the younger generation ó and then remembering to practice what they preach.

National statistics indicate that many teenagers are not using seat belts, and thatís leading to needless tragedies throughout the country.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration statistics, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of teen passenger vehicle occupants killed in accidents are unrestrained. Based on estimated miles traveled, teen drivers have a fatality rate four times that of drivers age 25 to 69. Drivers are less likely to use restraints when they have been drinking, and 28 percent of young drivers killed in fatal crashes were intoxicated.

The most dangerous time for young drivers is at night, and 68 percent of drivers and passengers ages 16 to 20 killed in nightime crashes were not buckled up, the NHTSA reports.

When donít they buckle up? An Associated Press story on the statistics quoted a high school girl in Washington, D.C., as saying, ďThey donít want to seem like a nerd around their friends,Ē she said.

Inexperience and fearlessness, the reasons offered by NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason, are ďa deadly combination.Ē

Driving is a serious responsibility, and as school sanctioned driver education courses have dwindled, itís a lesson that parents and other adults must reinforce. Itís not just sound advice; itís advice that can save lives.

Brownwood Bulletin