More commercial truck and bus drivers in Missouri are buckling up behind the wheel, a new survey found, reflecting a larger national trend in safety belt awareness and usage amongst professional drivers.
The Missouri Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Survey, which was conducted by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and released Tuesday, found that 80.6 percent of commercial drivers in Missouri used their seatbelts in 2010 – a dramatic increase from 2008 when just 73.4 percent of commercial drivers buckled up. Only 65 percent of commercial drivers used their safety belts in 2007, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
The survey is conducted every other year and includes about 19,000 observations of commercial motor vehicle drivers in 76 counties at 250 observational sites.
According to the survey, the commercial drivers most likely to use their seat belts are the drivers of double trailers, while the least likely drivers to buckle up are garbage truck drivers. Just 57.5 percent of garbage truck drivers said they used their seat belts. Double trailer, bus, and box trailer drivers accounted for the greatest increase of commercial drivers using heir seat belts since 2008, MoDOT reported.
“All the statistics show that seat belts save lives, and all the experts agree that buckling up is the best way to protect yourself in a crash, but one in five commercial motor vehicle drivers still don’t,” said Leanna Depue, chair of the executive committee of the coalition. “It is a number we have to keep trying to change. Please buckle up!”
Commercial truckers and bus drivers spend most of their entire work days behind the wheel. With so much time spent in their vehicles, it’s important that they protect themselves by buckling up. While state laws vary on seatbelt usage and enforcement, federal motor carrier regulations make failure to use a seat belt a primary enforcement offense, meaning that an officer can pull a driver over for no other reason than the lack of seat belt use. Not using a seat belt is not only costly, it can also negatively affect the drivers’ and carriers’ federal safety scores.
FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro has praised the positive trend, but says the federal government will keep pushing until 100 percent of commercial drivers buckle up.
“Driving a 40-ton truck or a bus full of people is a big responsibility,” Ferro said. “Drivers owe it to themselves and others to wear a safety belt every time they get behind the wheel.”