Seat Belt Myths and Facts

Why are truck drivers not using seat belts?

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatalities increased 20% among occupants of large commercial motor vehicles in 2011. One-third of the 635 truck occupants who died in accidents during 2011 were not wearing a seat belt, according to a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration analysis released recently. The agency also reported that speeding played a role in 22% of those truck-occupant deaths. So why don’t drivers wear their seat belt? Let’s look at some myths and facts about seat belts.

Pass these along to your drivers, and remind them that it’s also the law: Federal regulations require commercial vehicle drivers to buckle up.

MYTH: Safety belts are uncomfortable and restrict movement.
FACT: Most drivers find that once they correctly adjust the seat, lap and shoulder belt, most drivers find that discomfort and restrictive movement can be alleviated.

MYTH: Wearing a safety belt is a personal decision that doesn’t affect anyone else.
FACT: Not wearing a safety belt can certainly affect your family and loved ones. It can also affect other motorists since wearing a safety belt can help you avoid losing control of your truck in a crash. It’s the law; Federal regulations require commercial vehicle drivers to buckle up.

MYTH: Safety belts prevent your escape from a burning or submerged vehicle.
FACT: Safety belts can keep you from being knocked unconscious, improving your chances of escape. Fire or submersion occurs in less than 5% of fatal large truck crashes.

MYTH: It’s better to be thrown clear of the wreckage in the event of a crash.
FACT: An occupant of a vehicle is four times as likely to be fatally injured when thrown from the vehicle.

MYTH: It takes too much time to fasten your safety belt 20 times a day.
FACT: Buckling up takes about three seconds. Even buckling up 20 times a day requires only one minute.

MYTH: Good truck drivers don’t need to wear safety belts.
FACT: Good drivers usually don’t cause collisions, but it’s possible that during your career you will be involved in a crash caused by a bad driver, bad weather, mechanical failure, or tire blowout. Wearing a safety belt prevents injuries and fatalities by preventing ejection, and by protecting your head and spinal cord.

MYTH: A large truck will protect you. Safety belts are unnecessary.
FACT: Last year, more than 30% of the truck occupant fatalities were not wearing seat belts.

MYTH: Safety belts aren’t necessary for low-speed driving.
FACT: In a frontal collision occurring at 30 mph, an unbelted person continues to move forward at 30 mph causing him/her to hit the windshield at about 30 mph. This is the same velocity a person falling from the top of a three-story building would experience upon impact with the ground.

MYTH: A lap belt offers sufficient protection.
FACT: The lap and shoulder belt design has been proven to hold a driver securely behind the wheel in the event of a crash, greatly increasing the driver’s ability to maintain control of the vehicle and minimizing the chance for serious injury or death.

Always take time to buckle up. And remember, wearing a safety belt isn’t an option; it’s the law.

Myths and facts reprinted with permission from the NPTC monthly driver safety letter

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Driver’s Corner

Myth: Belts can hurt you in a crash.

Fact: According to the National Safety Council, when used correctly, lap/shoulder safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and reduce the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. Buckle up!

And finally…

And finally, it’s probably no surprise that Volvo was the first automaker to introduce the two-point cross-chest diagonal belt. However, would you be surprised to learn that was way back in 1956? Ford and Chrysler offered optional lap belts in some models that same year. But, it took until 1989 for 34 states to pass laws requiring drivers and passengers to wear seat belts, and until 1995 for the remaining states to come around. (With one exception: New Hampshire.) It’s become second nature for most of us: it feels weirder to not have it on than to buckle up. Which is a good thing!

Have a nice weekend. Safe travels.

Originally appeared in FridayFleet on April 19, 2013

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