Driver Letter: Seat Belts
Dear Professional Driver,
This month’s letter is going to be about seat belts or in our industry; “Safety Belts”. After visual observation and hearing excuses for not wearing safety belts, I want to add my two cents regarding the subject.
Professional drivers, as a whole, don’t cause accidents but are involved in accidents caused by bad drivers, inclement weather, or mechanical failures. The whole purpose of the safety belt is to prevent ejection thus protecting you from injury. The safety belt is designed and 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, while minimizing the chance of serious injury or death. You can also take into consideration that wearing the safety belt helps you avoid losing control of your vehicle which may positively affect other motorists.
We all hear about commercial motor vehicle drivers having burned alive or drowned because they were wearing a safety belt and could not free themselves. This occurs in less than 5% of fatal large truck crashes. In 2004, 634 commercial motor vehicle drivers died in truck crashes. Of those drivers, 303 were not wearing their safety belts. That is a fatality rate of over 47%. A vehicle occupant is four (4) times as likely to ben fatally injured when thrown from their vehicle. Of those 634 fatalities mentioned earlier, 168 drivers died when they were ejected from their vehicles. That works out to be greater than 26%.
When I am told that safety belts are too uncomfortable or restrictive, I say “tommyrot”. Once the driver correctly adjusts the seat, lap and shoulder belts, they find that the discomfort and restriction can be alleviated. Hearing that it takes too much time to hook and unhook the belt, I explain that buckling up takes about 3 seconds. Even if you buckle up 20 times a day, you are only talking about 1 minute out of your day!
When I am still told that wearing safety belts are too much of a hassle, I have to remind the professional driver that it is the law per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Not only will the violation go against the company’s CSA score and your CDL, it will hit your wallet paying the associated fine.
This is a non-negotiating issue. Buckle up when behind the wheel of a J & S Transport vehicle.