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Seat belts - effective when worn, but 1 in 6 truck drivers don't

By Daniel Brown, Risk Control Technical Manager

Using your seat belt is probably one of the quickest and easiest ways to help keep you and your passengers safe. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) statistics show that seatbelts have helped prevent millions of vehicle-related injuries and deaths since the 1960s when they were first required in vehicles[1].

Thanks to awareness campaigns and greater enforcement, seat belt use has steadily increased during the past decades, but it’s still not universal.  A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 1 out of 6 medium and heavy duty truck drivers (16 percent) do not wear seat belts.[2]

Commercial Truck Driver Seat Belt Use

Vehicle Type

Seat Belt Use 

Bobtail 86%
Intermodal Container 82%
Dump 70%
Flatbed 82%
Van 86%
Tanker 85%
Other 81%
Source:  Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Facts,
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, March 2014


Buckling up does more than help protect you from the initial forces of a crash. It helps keep you in your seat, which makes it less likely that you will bounce around inside the vehicle or be ejected. Staying in your seat also helps keep you in a position where you can better control your vehicle.

Years of crash statistics are hard to refute. Using a seat belt can help reduce your risk of injury or death by 50 percent.[3] The message is simple: use your seat belt every time you drive and ask any passengers in your vehicle to do the same.

[1] Primary Enforcement Safes Lives, NHTSA, 2006.
[2] Trucker Safety—Using a Seat Belt Matters, CDC Vital Signs, March 2015.
[3] NHTSA Safety in Numbers, Volume 1, Issue 2, May 2013.

Top reasons to use your seat belt:

Using a seat belt can reduce your risk of injury or death from a crash by 50 percent.*

  • More than 1 in 3 truck drivers who died in crashes in 2012 were not wearing seat belts.**
  • Failing to use a seatbelt was the 5th most common inspection violation for truck drivers during 2013.***
  • Seat belt use is required by nearly every state. In addition, commercial vehicle safety regulations require all commercial drivers to use them.

*NHTSA Safety in Numbers, Volume 1, Issue 2, May 2013.
**Vital Signs, Centers for Disease Control, March 2015.
***Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics, FMCSA, October 2014.

Seat Belt Myths

Myth:  Seat belts can hurt you in a crash. 

Fact:  Seat belts generally help prevent more serious injuries than they cause.

Myth:  I’m a good driver; I don’t need a seat belt.

Fact:  You may be a good driver, but you can’t control how other drivers drive. Even if you are driving defensively, you may not be able to avoid the distracted, drowsy or drunk driver coming around the next corner.

Myth:  I don’t want to be trapped in a fire or underwater.

Fact:  Crashes involving fire or water represent only 1/2 of one percent of all crashes.  However, when they do occur, it’s far better to remain conscious and uninjured so you can unbuckle yourself and escape the vehicle.

Myth:  I’d rather be thrown clear in a crash.

Fact:  Being safely ejected from a vehicle is almost impossible. Your best bet is to remain inside the vehicle where you are better protected.

Source:  Michigan State Police,

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