Seatbelts still best way for truck drivers to avoid crash injuries: CDC

Using a seatbelt is the single most effective intervention to prevent truck drivers from being injured or killed in a motor vehicle crash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A new CDC Vital Signs report found more than one in three truck drivers who died in crashes in 2012 were not buckled up, a decision which could have prevented about 40 per cent of these deaths.

The report found 14 per cent of long-haul truck drivers reported not using a seatbelt on every trip. For each driver or passenger in a large truck who died, six other people (pedestrians, cyclists, people in other vehicles) died as a result of large-truck crashes in 2012.

Long-haul truck drivers who reported not wearing seat belts also tended to engage in other unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding and committing moving violations. They were also more likely to work for an employer that did not have a written workplace safety program.

More than one-third of long-haul truck drivers had been involved in one or more serious crashes during their driving careers. Fatal crashes of large trucks and buses cost the United States economy about $40 billion in 2012.

To help promote seatbelt use and prevent crashes and injuries, employers can provide comprehensive driver safety programs that address other known risk factors such as drowsy and distracted driving.

“Employers and government agencies at all levels can help improve truck driver safety and increase seat belt use among truck drivers by having strong company safety programs and enforcing state and federal laws," said CDC principal deputy director Ileana Arias.

State interventions can include adding primary enforcement seatbelt laws that allow a police officer to pull over and ticket a driver or passenger for not wearing a seat belt, even if this is the only violation the officer sees — observed seatbelt use for drivers of large trucks increased as more states added these laws, said the CDC.

Engineering and design changes that provide increased comfort and range of motion when using seatbelts and allow adjustments for diverse body types can increase use of seatbelts among truck drivers, the report found.