Study: Commercial Drivers' Safety Belt Use Up Nearly 10 Percent

Safety belt usage among commercial truck and bus drivers significantly increased to 74 percent in 2009 from 65 percent in 2007, according to new data released by the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

"The increasing trend in safety belt usage among commercial drivers is encouraging," said Bill Graves, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, which, along with FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, put forth safety initiatives that aim to improve safety on the nation's highways. "However, our advocacy won't rest until every driver is buckling up."

The 2009 survey observed 20,818 commercial drivers operating medium-duty trucks, heavy-duty trucks, and buses at 827 roadside locations across the country. The study found that usage rates were over 10 percent higher in states with strict safety belt laws.

According to FMCSA, safety belt use was at 78 percent in states with primary safety belt laws, which allow law enforcement to stop drivers for not using a safety belt, versus 67 percent in states with weaker laws. Also, the study found that national and regional fleet drivers showed a 78 percent use rate compared to owner operators, whose usage rate was 64 percent.

ATA's progressive 18-point safety agenda supports strategies to increase the use of seatbelts. These safety policies advocate primary seatbelt laws in all states; incentives and penalties to motivate states to pass primary seatbelt laws; audible reminders for seatbelt use in commercial vehicles; contrasting colors for seatbelts so law enforcement can quickly identify non-users; state adoption of the failure to wear a seatbelt defense; and denial of worker's compensation for drivers who fail to use seatbelts.

In addition to its safety agenda, ATA advocates increased seatbelt usage among all drivers through ATA's Share the Road program, America's Road Team, and the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership campaign, "Be Ready. Be Buckled."

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