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.