Federal Regulators to Survey Truck Drivers on Seat Belt Usage

semi truck driver buckling seat belt

Federal regulators are set to survey truck drivers about their seat belt usage following alarming data showing a high number of unrestrained drivers involved in fatal accidents.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently announced its plan to deploy “quantitative data collection techniques” through an anonymous online survey. This initiative aims to understand truckers’ seat belt habits and road safety perceptions better.

The FMCSA noted that current data on seat belt usage and road safety perceptions do not reflect the diversity of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers in a post-COVID-19 era. “Understanding these behaviors and perceptions will help us identify emerging trends and inform future communication efforts targeting CMV drivers,” the agency stated.

Federal transportation officials have been increasingly concerned about these trends in recent years. In 2021, Jack Van Steenburg, then FMCSA’s chief safety officer, highlighted that nearly half of the almost 900 large truck occupants killed in 2019 were not wearing seat belts. “It’s hard to believe that people are still not wearing seat belts while driving trucks,” Van Steenburg remarked.

Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Polly Trottenberg, also expressed concern, noting a decline in seat belt usage among truckers at a DOT safety forum last year. “The fatality numbers show an alarming trend of unbelted drivers,” she emphasized.

In 2021, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that 64% of truck drivers killed in large truck crashes were not wearing seat belts, a rise from 59% in 2019 and 44% in 2020.

The FMCSA plans to survey 1,060 truck drivers in the U.S. with internet access, expecting the process to take about 10 minutes over three to four weeks.

According to FMCSA, “The survey collection is non-controversial and does not raise issues for other federal agencies. The results will not be publicly disseminated or used for major policy decisions, and no personal data will be collected.”

The agency is seeking public comments on the survey plan before gaining approval from the Office of Management and Budget. Input is requested on the necessity of the proposed data collection and ways to improve the quality and usefulness of the information.