ATA applauds increase in truck driver seatbelt usage

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ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations is tipping its hat to industry and law enforcement groups, as well as the federal government, for their efforts to improve seatbelt usage among commercial truck drivers, after a reported a 4% increase in the last year.

“Today’s news is yet another reflection of the trucking industry’s commitment to safety,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO. “However, while these numbers are encouraging we acknowledge that there is still much more to do.”

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 78% of truck drivers are buckling up – up 4% in the last year and up 13% since 2007. The agency’s survey found that 80% of truckers reported wearing their belts in states with primary seat belt laws – 8% higher than in states with only secondary laws.

ATA has been a long-time advocate of safety belt use and is a member of DOT’s Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership. Recently, ATA made safety belt initiatives a component of its progressive safety agenda.

“Two years ago, as part of ATA’s progressive safety agenda, our industry’s leading trucking companies called for states to pass primary seat belt laws,” said Barbara Windsor, ATA chairman and president and CEO of Hahn Transportation. “FMCSA’s statistics show that these laws boost the rate of seat belt usage among truck drivers.”

ATA’s safety agenda also calls for other strategies to induce seatbelt use such as requiring that belts be of a sharply contrasting colour (e.g., bright orange) to allow for easier enforcement, admissibility in court of evidence that a driver failed to wear his/her seatbelt, and denial of workers compensation claims for drivers who don’t wear seatbelts.

“Overall, truck crash and fatality rates, including the fatality rate for truck drivers, have plummeted in recent years,” Graves said. “While there are many factors contributing to these record-setting safety performance accomplishments, increasing seatbelt usage by drivers is certainly among them.”

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