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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

FMCSA proposed rule would mandate truck passengers use seat belts

A notice of proposed rule making from FMCSA would require every passenger in a commercial motor vehicle to use a seat belt if one were installed.

The notice, which was announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today, is seeking public comment on the NPRM. The notice is expected to publish in the Federal Register on Dec. 10, with comments due within 45 days.

In announcing the proposed rule, the agency noted that federal rules have long required all commercial drivers to use safety belts. The proposed rule would hold both trucking companies and commercial truck drivers responsible for ensuring that any passenger riding in the truck cab is also buckled up.

The agency’s release stated that approximately 275 occupants of large trucks killed in crashes in 2013 were not wearing their safety belts, according to the most recently available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The question is: Of those 275 occupants, how many were co-drivers in the bunk sleeping? How many sleeping co-drivers will be awoken by authorities checking to ensure the “cargo net” was being properly utilized?
The rule making was issued in response to a 2013 petition filed by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which requested that FMCSA require all occupants in a property-carrying commercial vehicle to restrain themselves with a seat belt when the vehicle is being driven.

The discussion section of the proposed rule notes that FMCSA used the word “occupant” rather than passenger to clarify that the rule would apply to any person in the vehicle, including instructors, evaluators or any other personnel. The section also notes that the proposed requirement would be applicable only if there is a seat belt assembly installed in the vehicle.