Trucks: More Support for Wearing Seatbelts

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Our nation depends on truck drivers to deliver goods and services safely and efficiently. Yet, crashes involving large trucks continue to take a toll on truck drivers, their passengers, other road users, businesses, and the community. Overall, 317,000 motor vehicle crashes involving large trucks were reported to police in 2012, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The estimated cost of truck and bus crashes to the United States economy was $99 billion that same year.

About 2.6 million workers in the US drive trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds. After dropping to 35-year lows in 2009, the number of crash fatalities of truck drivers or their passengers increased between 2009 and 2012. Approximately 700 drivers of large trucks or their passengers died in crashes in 2012, and an estimated 26,000 were injured. About 65 percent of on-the-job deaths of truck drivers in 2012 were the result of a motor vehicle crash. More than a third of the drivers who died were not wearing a seat belt.

“We know that using a seat belt is the single most effective intervention to prevent injury or death in a motor vehicle crash. However, in 2012 more than 1 in 3 truck drivers who died in crashes were not buckled up, a simple step which could have prevented up to 40 percent of these deaths” said CDC Principal Deputy Director Ileana Arias, Ph.D. “Employers and government agencies at all levels can help improve truck driver safety and increase seat belt use among truck drivers by having strong company safety programs and enforcing state and federal laws.”

What can be done to reduce the risk of motor vehicle crashes, injuries, and deaths among truck drivers?

  • States can help increase seat belt use by truck drivers through high-visibility enforcement of seat belt laws by state troopers and motor carrier safety inspectors.
  • Employers can establish and enforce company safety policies, including belt-use requirements for truck drivers and passengers as well as bans on text-messaging and use of handheld phones.
  • Employers can educate truck drivers about ways to avoid distracted and drowsy driving.
  • Engineering and design changes that provide increased comfort and range of motion and allow adjustments for diverse body types might increase use of seat belts by truck drivers.For general information about motor vehicle safety, please visit CDC’s Injury Prevention & Control: Motor Vehicle Safety.
  • For more information on motor vehicle safety at work, including trucker safety, please visit the NIOSH Motor Vehicle Safety page. Released in conjunction with this month’s Vital Signs is the NIOSH Long-Haul Truck Drivers page. Both these topic pages offer research results, resources, and useful links for employers and workers.

Vital Signs is a CDC report that appears on the first Tuesday of the month as part of the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, or MMWR. The report provides the latest data and information on key health indicators. These are cancer prevention, obesity, tobacco use, motor vehicle passenger safety, prescription drug overdose, HIV/AIDS, alcohol use, health care-associated infections, cardiovascular health, teen pregnancy, and food safety.

CDC | March 5, 2015

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