FMCSA is investigating Are truck drivers consistently using their seat belts

The FMCSA is investigating: Are truck drivers consistently using their seat belts?

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators are set to survey truck drivers about their seat belt habits following recent fatality data showing a significant number of unrestrained drivers involved in fatal accidents.

In a notice published Wednesday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced its plan to employ “quantitative data collection techniques” through an anonymous, self-administered online survey. The goal is to gain insights into truckers’ behaviors regarding seat belt use and road safety.

“Current data on safety belt utilization and road safety insights fail to record the diversity among different types of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers in the post-COVID-19 national emergency landscape,” the agency stated.

Understanding safety belt usage and perceptions of road safety among CMV drivers will help the FMCSA identify emerging trends within this group and guide future messaging and communication efforts aimed at CMV drivers.

These trends have raised concern among federal transportation officials in recent years.

At a 2021 meeting organized by the Intermodal Association of North America, Jack Van Steenburg, then FMCSA’s chief safety officer, highlighted statistics showing that of nearly 900 occupants of large trucks destroyed in crashes in 2019, almost half were without seat belts.

It is hard to believe for me that people are not wearing seat belts behind [the wheel] of trucks,” Van Steenburg remarked at the time.

U.S. Department of Transportation Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg has also shown concern.

“We have observed in the trucking industry that there is a decrease in the use of seat belts,” Trottenberg said during a DOT safety event last year. “And the count of fatalities show that there is a strikingly high proportion of unbelted individuals.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 64% of truck drivers who died in big truck crashes in 2021 did not have seat belts on. This stands in contrast to 44% in 2020 and 59% in 2019.

The FMCSA projects that 1,060 truck drivers who reside in the United States and have access to the internet will take part in a voluntary survey. The survey should take approximately ten minutes to complete and will be administered over a period of three to four weeks.

The FMCSA states that “the collection is non-controversial and does not raise issues of concern to other Federal agencies.”The results are not intended to be released to the public, and the information gathered will not be utilized to substantially influence crucial policy decisions. No personally identifiable information is being collected.

The agency is inviting public comments on the plan before seeking approval from the Office of Management and Budget, including whether the proposed data collection is necessary and ways to enhance the quality and usefulness of the information.

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