Last month I was parked with my wife in front of a restaurant in Chilliwack. We decided move to the YMCA. This was about a 40 second drive of 200 yards around the corner. Wouldn’t you know it; I got caught in a seatbelt check and got a ticket for not wearing my seat belt. Boy was I embarrassed. But when you think about it, better embarrassed that injured.
I always try to wear my seatbelt (other than that one time..I swear…well mostly). It makes me feel safer by holding me in the seat. I do a little 4X4 exploring on the weekends and bouncing along a logging road or a dried up river bottom teaches you that seatbelt use is necessary to keep control of your vehicle.
I was looking on the web and found a 2006 study on seatbelt use found that only 59% of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers (in the USA) wear safety belts. I think the percentage may be a little higher in Canada but not much. From my experience truck drivers feel safe in the rig so they are less motivated than car drivers to take personal safety measures. They either tell me that they are sitting for a long time and feel the belt is restrictive or that they are getting in and out of the truck a lot and find it bothersome.
Trucking is a hard business. It is hard to make money, hard on your nerves, hard on your body. Ultimately it is hard on your health. Please take every measure possible including wearing a seatbelt to preserve your health. One thing a seat belt gives you right away is that it helps you to keep an alert posture, better for driving and for your health. It also gives you peace of mind in that you will be ready for anything that may come your way in traffic.
No one plans when to have an accident. I knew a driver that missed a poorly designed T intersection in bad lighting and drove through the stop sign, off the highway, through a 6 foot ditch, across 300 feet of farmland and into a house. He was lucky to survive but broke his back and sustained permanent damage. When I interviewed his co driver about why he thought they did not stop in the field, he had to tell me the driver was not wearing his seatbelt. When he hit the ditch he was thrown out of his seat, bounced off the roof, across the truck and on to the floor behind the passenger seat. This is another example of where a seatbelt would have prevented the injury and prevented the truck from hitting the house.
In the event that you have to take evasive maneuvers, your seatbelt will keep you in the driver’s seat able to reach all of the petals and controls at your command. My friend Alex was driving near Ogden UT on a 3 lane divided highway. A 4 wheeler parked on the inside meridian tried to ram him in an apparent suicide attempt. Alex’s quick reactions and evasive driving caused the truck to jackknife and roll but the 4 wheeler was struck a glancing blow on the rear corner instead of in the center. The 4 wheeler survived and Alex sustained only a few scratches. The rapid turning of the truck would not have been possible without a seat belt and Alex, for sure, would have had serious injuries.
The last year I could find stats for were 2006, again for the USA. Of the 805 truck drivers and passengers who died in truck crashes, 393 were not wearing safety belts, basically half. If you are driving team, use a belt in the sleeper. Again from my experience the person most likely to be hurt in a truck crash is the guy not wearing a safety belt, even if in the sleeper. Waking up as part of the dash is a reality on the highway. The person wearing a belt is rarely hurt beyond scratches or a little soft tissue bruising.
Trucking is a hard life. Wearing a seatbelt makes it a little easier on your body and your mental stress. The seatbelt will kelp you stay in the driver’s seat and in control of your vehicle. In the event of a crash, the seatbelt will prevent serious injuries and often your life. Like the slogan says. ‘If you’re not wearing a seatbelt, what is holding you back’?
By the way, look for more ways to keep safe, save on WorksafeBC fees and try the new truck descending simulator at the BC TSC website www.safetydriven.ca