A press conference this (Friday) morning at the state Crime Lab in Ankeny featured a couple bashed-up trucks, and a message from Iowa Public-Safety Director Kevin Techau — pickup drivers have to wear seatbelts, too. “Why ‘Buckle Up In Your Truck’?” Techau asks. “We lose far too many Iowans in crashes involving pickup trucks.” Techau says 72-percent of those involved in crashes in a pickup truck are killed, and he says that’s far too high.

Techau says not only is the fatality rate high among pickup drivers, but their seatbelt use is low, and he says there’s a connection. Pickup drivers consider themselves safer than the passenger, but he says that’s just not true. Techau adds that pickup trucks are twice as likely to roll over in a crash, and that’s exactly the kind of accident seatbelts will do the most good for, as they’ll prevent the driver from being thrown out or otherwise injured in the rollover.

Randy Bolin from the regional Highway Traffic Safety Administration office in Kansas City praised Iowa and its safety and law-enforcement agencies, saying nationally the seatbelt-use rate is 82-percent but it’s at 87-percent in Iowa. Though only about one-fifth of Americans live in rural areas, Bolin says traffic crashes in rural areas make up about 60-percent of the roadway deaths in the U.S.

In Iowa, he says 86-percent of the fatalities were in rural areas. And he says you can’t talk about rural areas without talking about trucks. He says last year the national rate of safety-belt use was ten-percent lower in pickup trucks than it was in cars, vans and SUVs.

Bolin says in 2004, 84 Iowans were killed in pickup trucks as a result of motor-vehicle crashes, and he says of those, 64-percent weren’t buckled in. The “Buckle Up in Your Truck” initiative is a national one, and federal funding will help run radio and TV ads as well as pay overtime for patrols to keep a special watch for pickup drivers who aren’t buckled in.

Related web sites:
Buckle Up campaign