The Miami Police Department has united with traffic safety advocates across a five-state region in a concerted drive to convince pickup truck drivers and passengers to “Buckle Up in Your Truck.”

Authorities in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma, including the Indian nations, will be out in full force May 21 through June 3 participating in the campaign for safety belt enforcement, according to Miami Assistant Chief of Police Jeff Coble.

State observation surveys show that well over a million pickup drivers and passengers in the five-state region are still not buckling up, resulting in more than 1,000 pickup occupants dying in the region every year in traffic crashes, according to Coble.

Safety belt use in pickup trucks is 5 to 10 percentage points lower compared to all other passenger vehicles in the five states.

“Pickups are twice as likely to roll over as passenger cars in fatal crashes,” Coble said. “Nearly half of the deaths in pickup crashes in the region involve a rollover. Wearing your safety belt reduces the risk of dying in a rollover crash by up to 80 percent.”

Coble said buckling up is the only defense against being ejected from your vehicle, one of the most deadly things that can happen in a crash.

National research showed that of the partially or completely ejected occupants in the rollover crashes studied, 81 percent were not using safety belts compared to only 18 percent who were.

“There are still far too many people, regardless of the vehicle they drive, in this jurisdiction who don't think they need to buckle up,” Coble said. “We want these drivers and passengers to know that far too many of our community's caring families are risking losing a husband or wife, a father or mother, a son or daughter simply for lack of wearing a safety belt.

“That's why we'd rather write them a ticket than see someone injured or dead in a crash down the road.”

Since “Click It or Ticket” began in 2002 and “Buckle Up in Your Truck” was initiated in 2004, the five-state region overall safety belt use rate has risen 12.8 percentage points and the belt use rate in pickup trucks has climbed 14.4 percentage points.

That translates to more than three million drivers and passengers in the region buckling up today than just a few short years ago.

Law enforcement officials hope to increase those numbers in 2007.

The “Buckle Up in Your Truck” campaign is funded through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the highway safety offices in the five states and the Indian nations.