I-95 safety belt crackdown aimed at truckers

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Through June 5, the Virginia State Police will emphasize safety belt enforcement among commercial truck drivers on Interstate 95 between Petersburg and Fredericksburg, including Richmond.

“They will get a ticket if they do not buckle up,” said Kathy Culpepper, a Drive Smart Virginia spokeswoman.

“If a truck is pulled over for other violations, they [state police] will check and see if a driver is wearing a safety belt,” said Suzanne Ellyson, assistant director of Drive Smart Virginia.

Research shows that safety belt use among truckers is dramatically lower than that of four-wheelers. A survey on that section of I-95 in April showed that less than 59 percent of truckers regularly wore safety belts, compared to almost 80 percent of four-wheelers.

“A lot of truckers have an unreal sense of safety due to the size of their rigs,” said Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police superintendent. “What they don’t realize is that they are just as likely to get injured, or worse, as people driving regular vehicles.”

Not wearing a safety belt could cause a trucker to lose control of his rig during an accident, increasing the severity of the crash, Flaherty said.

The Virginia crackdown is sponsored by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Virginia State Police and Drive Smart Virginia, a nonprofit organization founded by insurers in 1995.

“Truck drivers already have a life-saving piece of equipment in their vehicles – safety belts,” said Annette Sandberg, FMCSA administrator. “They help ensure truckers remain securely in their seats, do their jobs safely, and return home to the ones they love.”