News Release

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Lt. Eric Walker Governor's Highway Safety Program
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Southeast Region's "Buckle Up in Your Truck" Campaign Begins in May

Date of News Release: 04/24/2006

(LOUISVILLE, KY) - A news conference was held today at the Clarion Hotel today by the Governor's Highway Safety Program to announce the upcoming "Buckle Up in Your Truck" campaign scheduled for May 14-21, 2006.

A crashed pickup truck, a backdrop at today's press event, served as a gripping reminder of the dramatic and life-altering dangers that can exist on Kentucky's roadways. "Nearly 71 percent of those killed in pickup truck crashes in the Southeastern U.S. were not wearing their safety belts," said Terrance Schiavone, Southeast Regional Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). "Pickup truck drivers and their passengers are among those Americans least likely to regularly wear their safety belts," he said.

NHTSA as well as state and local highway safety and law enforcement leaders across the Southeast region are once again taking an aggressive enforcement and public awareness approach to convince the public to wear safety belts in pickup trucks. The Southeast region includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. 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.

"In Kentucky, on average, only 54.1 percent of pickup truck drivers and their passengers buckle up. Our goal is to increase that percentage rate and to ultimately reduce injuries and fatalities," said Kentucky State Police Commissioner Mark Miller.

According to the NHTSA, there were 5,801 pick-up truck occupant deaths in year 2004. 1,782 of these deaths occurred in the Southeast alone. The disparity in safety belt usage among pick-up truck and passenger car occupants is evident in fatal crash statistics. Information from fatal crashes indicates that three out of four pick-up truck occupants killed in crashes were not wearing a seat belt. In comparison, just about one-half of occupants killed in passenger cars were unbelted. Also, wearing your seat belt during a rollover crash will increase your odds of survival by five to one.

Kentucky State Police Lt. Eric Walker, Commander of the Governor's Highway Safety Program, said, "Pickup trucks have a higher center of gravity and therefore are twice as likely to roll over than cars. Also, the ejection rate for occupants of light trucks in crashes is nearly double that of cars. While not all crash ejections are fatal, nearly all are life-altering." Walker also said, "Hopefully, we'll be able to convince people that their trucks are much safer when the occupants are buckled up."

Today's press event was held at the 2006 Kentucky Lifesavers Conference, which is sponsored by the Kentucky State Police Governor's Highway Safety Program, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Drive Smart and the Federal Highway Administration and in cooperation with the Governor's Executive Committee on Highway Safety to help reduce highway fatalities and injuries in Kentucky through innovative and common-sense solutions.

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