A recent DOT report — “Shoulder Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers” — has given safety belt advocates in the trucking industry a reason to cheer. According to FMCSA, shoulder belt use for drivers of Class 7 and 8 vehicles was 54% in 2005, a boost over the 48% reported in 2002. Although an improvement, truckers' 54% safety belt usage remains a far cry from the 83% of automobile drivers who buckle up.
Perhaps not surprising to safety experts, the study determined that those who drive single tankers and hazmat tractor-trailer combinations were most likely to wear safety belts, with 75% usage. This marked an improvement for both groups of drivers, who in 2002 had usage rates of 61% and 67%, respectively.
Among single vans drivers usage increased from 51% to 62%; non-hazmat Class 8 from 47% to 54%; all Class 8 from 47% to 54%; major regional or national fleets from 55% to 63%.
In 2002, usage among independent or local fleets was only 44% and then suffered a “statistically insignificant” drop in 2005. “This suggests that local fleets may either not be getting the message, or may not be as motivated to use belts as their long-haul counterparts,” the report stated.
The study spanned 117 observation locations on Interstate exit/entrance ramps, near truckstops and at intersections with traffic signals. In 2005, 4,740 trucks were observed.