Trucking, But Not Buckling

Fewer drivers in pickup trucks are fastening their belts. That's why FDOT kicked off their "Buckle Up in Your Truck" campaign Monday.

Buckling up, or the lack thereof, is a big problem around these parts.

Kevin Thibault, a Florida Governor's Highway Safety representative, says, "We found that in the Panhandle area of the state, a lot of people who are driving here are not wearing their safety belts in their pickup trucks, and a lot of the accidents and fatalities were occurring in this area."

A recent study by FDOT says Leon County has one of the highest percentages of unbuckled pickup truck drivers in Florida. The problem is not just a local one.

Andrew Stancell of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says, "When we talk about overall fatalities, the southeast is overrepresented. We're talking an estimated 20 percent of the nation's population, and the southeast has 25 percent of the nation's fatalities in the eight states."

Law enforcement officials say pickup truck drivers may be misinformed of the dangers.

David McCranie of the Tallahassee Police Department says, "The misconception is that they are protected, because of the higher center of gravity vehicle, that they have more mass and that they are less likely to be injured in a crash, and the opposite is true."

McCranie says that the impact of the crash could be just as intense, and that's why they encourage occupants of all motor vehicles to snap on those safety belts.

FDOT says that nearly 80 percent of all pickup truck occupants killed in Florida didn't have their safety belt fastened. The "Buckle Up in Your Truck" campaign will continue through May 15 with numerous TV and radio announcements.