Uncle Sam wants U.S. truckers buckled up

ATLANTA, (Dec. 10, 2003) — A new study by the U.S. Department of Transportation has found that less than half of truck drivers wear seatbelts, prompting the government to launch an awareness program to increase the level of truckers who buckle up.

The seatbelt study — the first such effort to target truckers — found that only 48 per cent of the U.S.’ 11 million commercial drivers wear seatbelts. In response, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta announced a new public-private partnership to increase the trucker average closer that that of passenger car drivers — 79 per cent of which wear seatbelts.

“If you are one of the more than five and a half million truck drivers who choose not to wear your safety belt, I have a message for you: Uncle Sam wants you, no, needs you to buckle up,” Mineta said at the program launch in Atlanta yesterday.

According to DOT figures, the low number of truck drivers buckling has taken a toll. Of the 588 commercial drivers killed in crashes last year, more than half were not wearing safety belts. Of the 171 drivers who were ejected from their trucks, almost 80 per cent of them were not wearing safety belts.

The new partnership will involve the Transportation Department, drivers, trucking companies, and law enforcement in what is being named “the largest ever effort to combat
dramatically low safety belt usage in the trucking community.” The partnership will focus mainly on educating truck drivers about seat belt usage at 1,200 truck stops throughout the nation, produce and distribute printed educational material at association events and roadside inspection facilities, and sponsor additional research, as needed.

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