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"Buckle Up in Your Truck" Seeks to Save More Lives in Kentucky
Seventy-one Percent of Those Killed in Pickup Truck Crashes in the Southeastern U.S. Were Not Wearing Their Safety Belts


Date of Release: 04/25/05

(FRANKFORT, Ky.) - Pickup truck drivers and their passengers are among those Americans least likely to regularly wear their safety belts according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In Kentucky, on average, only 50.7 percent of pickup truck occupants buckle up.

That is why the Kentucky State Police announced today they are joining with NHTSA, state and local highway safety and law enforcement leaders across an eight-state region in the Southeastern U.S. to launch an aggressive new public awareness initiative called "Buckle Up In Your Truck" with the goal of convincing pickup truck drivers and their passengers to always buckle up.

State and local law enforcement and highway safety partners from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee are joining together to launch "Buckle Up In Your Truck." It will include a variety of enforcement and outreach activities including television and radio promotion in targeted markets where pickup truck fatalities have been most prevalent.

The multi-state "Buckle Up in Your Truck' initiative immediately precedes the intensive Buckle Up Kentucky. It's the Law and It's Enforced safety belt enforcement mobilization set for May 23 to June 5, 2005.

"Our goal is to save more lives by reminding pickup truck occupants to always wear their safety belts because that is the single best defense against ejection in a crash," said Lt. Col. Dean Hayes, Operations Division Director for KSP. "In fact, that simple step of always buckling up will increase your odds of survival by 70% to 80% if you have a rollover crash."

According to NHTSA, there were 1,677 fatalities from pickup truck crashes in the Southeastern U.S. in 2003. Seventy-one percent of the pickup truck occupants involved in those crashes were not buckled up at the time of the crash. Roughly 37 percent of these fatalities were involved in a rollover crash.

"While rollovers can happen in any kind of passenger vehicle, pickup trucks are twice as likely to rollover as cars, because they have a higher center of gravity," said Lt. Col. Hayes. "But even more alarming, the ejection rate for occupants of light trucks in a crash is also nearly double the rate for those in cars and much of that comes from folks not wearing their safety belts."

The eight Southeastern states participating in the "Buckle Up In Your Truck" campaign contain approximately 20 percent of the nation's population but represent approximately 26 percent of the nation's traffic fatalities.

Nationally, drivers and passengers in pickup trucks consistently have lower safety belt usage rates than the occupants of automobiles, vans and sport utility vehicles (SUVs). According to NHTSA's 2004 National Occupant Protection Use Survey (NOPUS), the observed safety belt use rate was only 70 percent in pickup trucks compared to 81 percent in passenger cars and 83 percent in SUVs and vans.

Young men (ages 16-34) driving or riding in pickup trucks, particularly those observed in rural areas, are among those least likely to regularly wear their safety belts. In 2003, 70 percent of the pickup truck drivers killed in traffic crashes were not buckled up.

Only 21 percent of Americans live in rural areas, yet in 2002, rural traffic crashes accounted for 60 percent of the total traffic fatalities on the nation's highways.

For driving tips on how to avoid rollover crashes and injuries, please visit the web at http://www.safercar.gov/. For more information about the value of always wearing your safety belt, please visit http://www.buckleupamerica.org/. For information on the "Buckle Up in Your Truck" campaign, please visit www.kentuckystatepolice.org.

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