Study finds Missouri truckers not buckling up

| 5/9/2005

Truckers in Missouri are well below average when it comes to wearing their seat belts, a study released by the state’s Department of Transportation reported.

According to the study, which was released on May 6, only approximately 59 percent of commercial vehicle drivers wear the safety device while driving, well below the 76 percent overall average for Missouri drivers. Observations for the report – a joint effort between MoDOT and Central Missouri State University – were taken in 76 counties during the fall of 2004.

Thirty-two truck drivers were killed in wrecks in Missouri in 2003, and more than half were not wearing seat belts, according to the MoDOT press release.

“If you are one of the truckers who choose not to wear a safety belt, I have a message for you: Missouri wants you – no, needs you – to buckle up,” MoDOT Director Pete Rahn said. “If you are involved in a crash, you cannot be fully in control of your truck unless you are wearing your safety belt.”

The report follows on the heels of comments from U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, who called highway fatalities “an epidemic.” In 2004, fatalities from large truck crashes increased from 4,986 to 5,169.

“If this many people were to die from any one disease in a single year, Americans would demand a vaccine,” Mineta said in a written statement. “The irony is we already have the best vaccine available to reduce the death toll on our highways – safety belts.”

The Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership, of which OOIDA is a member, recently launched a “Be Buckled, Be Ready” campaign to encourage drivers to wear their seat belts. The program uses education and persuasion – rather than intimidation and enforcement – to get drivers to buckle up.