John Egan Half of the pickup truck drivers who were killed in Texas traffic crashes in 2009 were not buckled up, according to statistics cited by the Texas Department of Transportation. Texas officials attribute lower seat belt use among truck drivers and passengers to a false sense of security in larger vehicles and the incorrect belief that seat belts aren’t necessary for short trips. “Pickup truck drivers and passengers tend to be younger and male, and they are not getting the message that seat belts save lives,” said Carol Rawson, TxDOT’s traffic operations director. “In fact, crashes involving pickup trucks can be particularly deadly because of the tendency for the trucks to roll over and for occupants to be thrown from the vehicles unless they are buckled up.” The Texas Department of Transportation has launched the "Buckle Up in Your Truck" campaign to remind pickup truck drivers and their passengers about wearing seat belts. In 2009, more than 3,000 people died in fatal car crashes in Texas, according to TxDOT, and just under 50 percent of them were not buckled up. In Texas, traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for those motorists up to age 44. On average, the number of pickup trucks involved in fatal crashes exceeds the number of passenger cars by 20 percent, according to TxDOT. Under Texas law, drivers and passengers must buckle up in the front and back seats. According to the Texas Transportation Institute, 94 percent of Texas drivers and their passengers wear seat belts.