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Seat belt use among CMV drivers reaches record high: report

man buckling up

Photo: Kali Nine LLC/iStockphoto

Washington — The percentage of commercial truck and bus drivers buckling up climbed to a record-high 86 percent in 2016, according to the results of a survey conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Researchers analyzed 39,319 drivers operating medium- to heavy-duty trucks and buses at 1,008 randomly selected roadside sites across the nation, as part of the Safety Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Survey. The researchers found that seat belt use has increased by 21 percent since 2007 (the first year the survey was conducted) and by 2 percent since 2013 (the last year the survey was conducted).

CMV drivers and occupants traveling on expressways had the highest rate of seat belt use (89 percent), while use among all other roadway users was 83 percent.

Other findings:

  • Seat belt use rates for CMV drivers and vehicle occupants were highest in the West, Midwest and South, at 87 percent each. Drivers in the Northeast buckled up 71 percent of the time.
  • For CMV drivers and occupants in states in which the safety belt law is a primary violation, use was 85 percent compared with 84 percent in states with secondary enforcement or no seat belt laws.
  • Seat belt use in states with secondary enforcement or no laws has climbed by 26 percent since 2007, and by 6 percent since 2013.
  • Seat belt use rates on 15-passenger vans (96 percent), intermodal containers (93 percent) and school buses (92 percent) each surpassed 90 percent. The rate among intermodal containers rose 12 percent from 2013, while the rate on motor coaches fell to 65 percent in 2016 from 74 percent in 2013.

“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,” FMCSA Deputy Administrator Cathy Gautreaux said in a press release. “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.”

Although federal regulations have long required drivers to wear seat belts, FMCSA has required passengers in large trucks to wear belts only since a final rule took effect on Aug. 8, 2016. Motor carriers and drivers bear the responsibility for ensuring passengers buckle up, as part of the rule.

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