Study says more truckers using shoulder belts

| 12/8/2006

Truckers buckled up more in 2006 than in 2005, according to a survey conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Overall shoulder belt usage among truckers increased to 59 percent - up 5 percent from 2005.

The executive summary of the study points to the difference in the shoulder safety belt use rate between owner-operators and drivers for "major regional or national fleets."

Truckers observed in major regional and national fleet trucks reportedly had a shoulder belt usage of 75 percent, an increase from 63 percent in 2005. However, according to the survey results, only 44 percent of owner-operators used shoulder belts, an increase from 41 percent in 2005.

FMCSA said that the increase in shoulder belt use by owner-operators suggests that owner-operators are "getting the message" and joining their "long-haul" counterparts in increased safety belt usage.

However, the executive summary concedes that the study results may suggest that owner-operators are more likely to have lap belts - referred to as Type 1 restraints in federal regulation - than shoulder belts, and were "less likely to be observed as users."

In conducting the study, observers were stationed in sport utility vehicles to "provide a somewhat higher vantage point" and used special forms and binoculars.

"Their ability to capture all aspects of the vehicle and driver shoulder belt condition was quite good," according to the executive summary.