The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says that safety belt usage by commercial truck and bus drivers rose to a new record level of 86 percent in 2016, compared to just 65 percent usage in 2007, according to the results of a national survey.
“Buckling up your safety belt, regardless of the type of vehicle you drive or ride in, remains the simplest, easiest and most effective step you can take toward helping to protect your life,” said FMCSA Deputy Administrator Cathy F. Gautreaux. “While it is good news that we are making strong progress, we need to continue to emphasize that everyone, everywhere securely fasten their safety belt 100 percent of the time.”
Since 2007, FMCSA, in collaboration with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has conducted the Safety Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Survey six times. In each survey, safety belt usage by commercial drivers has been shown to be steadily increasing.
The 2016 survey observed nearly 40,000 commercial drivers operating medium- to heavy-duty trucks and buses at more than 1,000 roadside sites nationwide. The survey found that safety belt usage for commercial drivers and their occupants was highest by trucks and buses traveling on expressways at 89 percent, compared to 83 percent on surface streets. Male truck and bus drivers outpaced their female counterparts by buckling-up at a rate of 86 percent to 84 percent, respectively.
States with “secondary” seat belt laws (law enforcement officers may only stop drivers for violations other than not being buckled) have nearly matched states with “primary” seat belt laws (officers can stop and ticket drivers and occupants for simply not wearing a safety belt) – 84 percent compared to 85 percent – in the most recent survey.
Regionally, the survey found that commercial vehicle drivers and their occupants in the West, the Midwest and the South all wore safety belts at an 87 percent rate. Only in the Northeast region was safety belt usage by truck and bus drivers different and significantly lower at just 71 percent.
The survey was designed and conducted in accordance with data collection methodologies used by NHTSA in its National Occupant Protection Use Survey of passenger vehicle passengers. Data collection sites for the survey were randomly chosen. Teams of spotters and recorders collected data through observations from overpasses on weekdays and weekends during daylight hours in all weather conditions.