DOT: Seatbelt usage among truck drivers hits record level

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The number of professional truckers buckling up their seatbelts jumped dramatically in 2007 to a record level of 65 percent, according to the Department of Transportation. The results were the findings of the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind ever conducted, DOT says. A survey conducted in 2003 found that only 48 percent of truck drivers used seatbelts; in 2006, this figure had improved to 59 percent.

Transportation Secretary Mary Peters credited the increased seatbelt usage in part to the creation of a coalition established by DOT in 2003 with the purpose of increasing seatbelt usage among truck drivers. She also credited a 2007 public service announcement DOT produced starring NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace for helping to raise seatbelt awareness among truck drivers.

“Though we’ve made great strides, we won’t rest until 100 percent of commercial motor vehicle drivers wear a seatbelt 100 percent of the time,” Peters said. Currently, 82 percent of passenger vehicle drivers wear seatbelts, according to DOT.

The marked increase demonstrates the effectiveness of safety initiatives by the American Trucking Associations, DOT and other industry groups, said Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer.

“The results from this newest survey illustrate the growing commitment to safety and saving lives among our drivers, and we at ATA are pleased our efforts have had some effect on that increase,” Graves said. “However, safety belts are still not being worn often enough. Increasing safety belt use within the trucking industry is a high-priority issue for ATA. We still lag behind the overall driving population in frequency of safety belt use.”

Safety belt use was observed at a higher rate (69 percent) in states with primary seatbelt laws than states with secondary belt use laws (59 percent). Additionally, company drivers were more likely (67 percent) to regularly wear safety belts than owner-operators (56 percent).