Starting this summer, all passengers traveling in large commercial trucks will be required to use seat belts under a new federal safety law aimed at reducing the number of traffic injuries and fatalities.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the new rule takes effect on Aug. 8, 2016, and will require any passengers in large commercial trucks to buckle up whenever the vehicle is traveling on public roads in interstate commerce.
The new rule revises FMCSA regulations to hold both motor carrier companies and commercial drivers liable for ensuring passengers in their trucks use safety belts.
“Seat belts save lives – period,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “Whether you’re a driver or passenger, in a personal vehicle or large truck, the simple act of wearing a safety belt significantly reduces the risk of fatality in a crash.”
In 2014, the latest year for which final national traffic statistics are available, 37 passengers traveling unrestrained in the cabs of large commercial trucks were killed in highway crashes, according to NHTSA. Of these 37 fatalities, approximately one-third were ejected from the truck cab during the crash.
FMCSA’s most recent “Seat Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) Drivers Survey,” published in March 2014, found that commercial motor vehicle passengers use seat belts at a lower rate (73 percent) than CMV drivers (84 percent). Federal rules have long required all commercial drivers to use seat belts but have failed to address the safety of passengers traveling in the same vehicles.
“Using a seat belt is one of the safest, easiest, and smartest choices drivers and passengers can make before starting out on any road trip,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “This rule further protects large truck occupants and will undoubtedly save more lives.”