Local News

Seat Belt Checkpoint Targets Pickup Truck Drivers

Posted May 18, 2006

— Drivers should buckle up every time they're behind the wheel. On Thursday, Wake County deputies sent that message to one specific group: People who drive pickup trucks.

Nationwide, young men who drive trucks are the least likely to wear their seatbelts. In all fatal pickup accidents last year, 83 percent were men between the ages of 18 and 39. In North Carolina in 2004, two-thirds of those killed in truck accidents were not wearing seat belts.

The seat belt campaign Thursday was the first Click It or Ticket checkpoint to specifically target pickup trucks for the Wake County Sheriff's Department. They called it "Buckle Up In Your Truck."

"There's a lower percentage of people complying with seat belt laws that's driving pickup trucks," said one Wake County deputy.

The Governor's Highway Safety Program said 89 percent of car drivers wear seat belts, but only 78 percent of pickup drivers buckle up. Safety experts say that 11 percent difference represents thousands of drivers.

"I think we ought to wear our belts," said pickup truck driver Durant Finch. "I do it most of the time, but I just come up here from over there a mile, so I didn't put it on."

Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison said a lot of pickup truck drivers have the wrong attitude when they get behind the wheel. Many think they're invincible because they're inside a truck.

"They're thinking, 'I'm up here. I'm in a truck. I'm just going here and I'm going to get my job done,' and they don't think about the seat belt," said Harrison. But that's when you mess up; when you least expect it, that's when you're going to have a wreck."

In three hours, deputies wrote 32 tickets to pickup truck drivers at the checkpoint. They said that proves their point that drivers need to buckle up in their truck.

In North Carolina, a seat belt violation costs $100 in fines and court fees.

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