New TxDOT ‘Click It or Ticket’ campaign has emotional kickoff in Houston

HOUSTON - When you don't wear a seat belt, your shoes can be hard to fill— because you might not walk in them again.

You may not even breathe again.

"Wendy and I are among the thousands of people every year whose lives are changed instantly and completely when something terrible happens to somebody they love because they weren't buckled up," David Mills, a dad from Spring, shared as he and his wife mourned the loss of their daughter.

The Texas Department of Transportation launched its 'Click It or Ticket' Houston campaign on Thursday, displaying 929 pairs of shoes that will never be filled again.

The shoes represent victims who perished across Texas in 2017 because they weren't wearing a seat belt.

An emotional Mills family added their daughter's shoes to the collection.

Their daughter, 16-year-old Kailee Mills from Spring, died in a car crash on her way to a Halloween party last October.

Sadly, she unbuckled her belt for a quick selfie and it cost her her life.

"They were only 500 yards from our house, and we saw all the lights [...] all the police cars and all the fire trucks, and a car that was upside down," a grief-stricken Mills recalled. "And a body that was sitting there under a sheet. And we knew that our daughter was gone."

Still, officials say the 'Click It or Ticket' campaign is saving lives in the Lone Star State.

"The 'Click It or Ticket' campaign in Texas has saved 5,473 lives, and it has prevented more than 95,500 serious injuries," TX DOT  deputy engineer Eliza Paul said.

The campaign started in 2002 when Texans were wearing seat belts just 76 percent of the time.

Today, that rate sits around 92 percent, according to TX DOT.

The white 'ghost shoes,' as TX DOT calls them,  are making their way across the state, having already been presented in Austin.

The sad shoes drive their point home, though.

It's better to buckle up, than to shed your shoes forever.