WASHINGTON – New data from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration show 74 percent of commercial truck and bus drivers are now using their safety belts in 2009. Only 65 percent of drivers were using safety belts in 2007.
“Safety belts save lives,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We applaud those who are buckling up, but we won’t rest until every commercial driver is using a safety belt.”
“Driving a 40-ton truck or a bus full of people is a big responsibility,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “Drivers owe it to themselves and others to wear a safety belt every time they get behind the wheel.”
A total of 20,818 commercial drivers operating medium- to heavy-duty trucks and buses were observed at 827 roadside sites nationwide for the survey.
Key findings include:
• Safety belt use for both commercial drivers and their occupants was higher at 78 percent in states where law enforcement may stop drivers for not wearing a safety belt, versus 67 percent in states with weaker belt use laws.
• Commercial drivers for regional or national fleets showed higher safety belt use at 78 percent, versus 64 percent for owner-operators, and
• Safety belt use rates for commercial drivers and their occupants were highest at 79 percent in the West, compared with 75 percent in the South, 68 percent in the Midwest, and 64 percent in the Northeast.
The executive summary for the Safety Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Survey and other safety belt educational materials may be found at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safetybelt.
Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.