Safety belt use increases, FMCSA says

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced that safety belt use by drivers of medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles increased to 72 percent in 2008. That figure is up 7 percentage points from 65 percent the previous year.

FMCSA’s safety belt statistics are part of its 2008 Seat Belt Usage Study, which the agency uses to measure the effectiveness of its Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Program. The federal program assists states in executing their own safety belt awareness campaigns. Safety belt usage among commercial drivers has increased from just 54 percent since 2005, when the program began.

Other key findings in the 2008 Seat Belt Usage Study include:

  • A rise in safety belt use among passengers of commercial motor vehicles to 61 percent;
  • Professional truck drivers for major regional or national fleets showed higher usage at 75 percent, versus 62 percent for owner-operators;
  • Regionally, safety belt usage rates for truck drivers and their occupants were highest at 81 percent in the West compared to 77 percent in the South, 60 percent in the Midwest, and 56 percent in the Northeast;
  • Safety belt usage for both drivers and occupants was higher at 80 percent in states that had primary belt use laws than 64 percent in states with secondary belt use laws; and
  • Commercial motor vehicle drivers and their occupants had higher safety belt usage rates on weekend days over weekdays, higher usage rates in urban areas over suburban or rural areas, and higher usage rates in faster traffic over slower traffic.
  • “We must continue to educate all motorists about the importance of buckling up,” says Bill Graves, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations.