Mineta, Sandberg team up to urge truckers: 'Be ready, be buckled'

| 4/6/2005

The U.S. Department of Transportation wants truckers to “be prepared for the uncertainties of the road” by using their seat belts. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta and DOT’s head truck enforcement officer, Annette Sandberg, traveled to Louisville, KY, last week to talk to truckers about using seat belts.

The campaign is part of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership, an initiative that encourages truckers to use what Sandberg called the “single most effective life-saving piece of equipment” in the cab of their trucks – their seat belts.

Secretary Mineta and FMCSA Administrator Sandberg were joined by OOIDA President Jim Johnston, Motor Freight Carriers Association’s Tim Lynch and ATA Chairman Steve Williams. The breakfast event, held in conjunction with the Mid-America Trucking Show, was hosted by XM Satellite radio host Bill Mack.

Special guest speakers were three professional truck drivers. Wayne Crowder, FedEx Freight; Steve Fields, Yellow Transportation; and Carol Ann Schussler, an OOIDA member and Dart Transit owner-operator. The three related their experiences, speaking out in favor of wearing seat belts and asking fellow drivers to “lead by example.”

Mineta said the DOT wanted to dispel myths, old behavior that keeps most truckers from wearing seat belts. Only 48 percent of truckers buckle up, compared with 80 percent of all passenger vehicle drivers.

Half of the 620 truckers killed in accidents during 2003 were not wearing safety belts, he said. Of the 171 truckers ejected from their vehicles, almost 80 percent were not wearing a safety belt.

OOIDA’s Jim Johnston commended the DOT for approaching truckers with a program based on education and persuasion rather than intimidation and enforcement.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is a partner in the alliance that includes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the American Trucking Associations, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Great West Casualty Co., International Association of Chiefs of Police, Motor Freight Carriers Association, National Association of Publicly Funded Truck Driving Schools, Natso, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, National Safety Council, National Tank Truck Carriers, National Truckload Carriers, Professional Truck Drivers Institute, Network of Employers for Highway Safety and the Truck Manufacturers Association.