More commercial drivers using safety belts, DOT says

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Safety belt usage among commercial motor vehicle drivers increased significantly in 2006, underscoring the effectiveness of efforts by the American Trucking Associations, the U.S. Department of Transportation and other industry groups to improve safety on the nation’s highways as part of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership.

DOT reported that 59 percent of Class 7 and 8 truck drivers now wear safety belts routinely, which marks a 23 percent increase in safety belt usage among commercial drivers since 2003. The nation’s largest national and regional fleets posted the highest percentage increase in safety belt use, jumping to 75 percent in 2006 from 63 percent a year earlier. Independent drivers increased their safety belt usage rate to 44 percent in 2006 from 41 percent in 2005. Additionally, the highest usage rates were for drivers of hazardous materials (84 percent) and tank trucks (83 percent).

“While these numbers illustrate the continuing improvement in safety among our professional drivers, truck drivers still are not wearing their safety belts enough,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “Saving lives by increasing safety belt use within the trucking industry is a high-priority issue for ATA because trucking continues to lag the overall motoring population in terms of safety belt use.” ATA’s comprehensive safety initiative includes calling for primary safety belt laws in all 50 states, Graves says.

The executive summary of the December 2006 report can be found here.