April 20, 2023 - Nearly two out of three pickup truck drivers who died in 2021 crashes in Louisiana were not wearing a seat belt, giving this year’s “Buckle Up in Your Truck” enforcement campaign a fresh urgency, according to the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission.

Through April 29, extra law enforcement agents across Louisiana are looking specifically for anyone in pickup trucks who is not wearing a seat belt. A first-offense ticket is $50, and subsequent tickets are $75.

“We are focusing on seat belt usage in pickup trucks because research shows those occupants are less likely to buckle up and are more vulnerable in crashes,” LHSC Executive Director Lisa Freeman said. “Wearing your seat belt remains the most effective action you can take to avoid being seriously hurt or killed in a crash.”

Louisiana law requires everyone in the front and back seats of cars, SUVs, trucks, and vans to wear a lap and shoulder seat belt or be in a child safety seat. The seat belt law is a primary enforcement law in Louisiana, meaning a law enforcement agent can pull a vehicle over if the agent observes anyone not wearing a seat belt.

In 2021, 144 pickup truck drivers in Louisiana died in crashes, and 95 of those drivers — or about 66% — were not wearing seat belts, according to the latest verified data from the Center for Analytics and Research in Transportation Safety at LSU. Since 2015, about 61% of pickup truck drivers who died were not wearing seat belts. 

In a 2022 LHSC observational survey, seat belt usage among pickup truck front-seat occupants was 80.7%, compared to 86.1% for occupants in all vehicles. For rear-seat passengers in pickups, the rate was a dismal 52.4%.

Because pickup trucks are more prone to rolling over in a crash, drivers and passengers need the protection of seat belts to avoid being ejected. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, buckling up in a pickup truck can reduce your risk of being killed in a crash by 60%.