Independent Truckers Lag on Seat Belt Use
This week, the American Trucking Associations highlighted its work to increase truckers' belt use -- part of ATA's safety agenda, which advocates adoption of primary enforcement laws.
The good news is that seat belt use by commercial drivers rose to an all-time high of 72 percent last year. The bad news? Only 62 percent for independent owner-operators, and only 61 percent of the passengers of commercial motor vehicles wear seat belts, the American Trucking Associations noted this week. The figures come from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's 2008 survey,
When then-DOT Secretary Norman Mineta created FMCSA's Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership in 2003, a survey indicated only 48 percent of truck drivers wore their seat belts, even though Section 392.16 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations requires it. The section states, "A commercial motor vehicle which has a seat belt assembly installed at the driver’s seat shall not be driven unless the driver has properly restrained himself/herself with the seat belt assembly." [35 FR 10860, July 3, 1970, as amended at 60 FR 38747, July 28, 1995]
In 2007, truckers' rate for belt use was 65 percent, the survey found, compared to the 82 percent rate that year of passenger vehicle drivers.
"We must continue to educate all motorists about the importance of buckling up," ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said this week. The organization's 18-point safety agenda recommends:
- that all states enact primary safety belt laws
- audible reminders for safety belt use in commercial vehicles
- contrasting colors for safety belts so law enforcement can quickly identify non-users
- state adoption of the failure to wear a safety belt defense
- denial of workers' compensation for drivers who fail to use safety belts
- that the federal government explore incentives and penalties to motivate states to pass primary belt laws, which are in place in 29 states and Washington, D.C.