Montana Department of Transportation

Bigge Crane Megaload Permit Issued

A permit has been issued for a megaload to travel from Idaho through Montana to Great Falls. The move, planned for seven stages, will travel at night to minimize travel disruptions to others along the route. MORE INFORMATION

Main Content

Do you drive for a living?

Safety is a Professional Driver's Responsibility

Racing Legend, Rusty Wallace Urges Seatbelt Use Among Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a new public service announcement (PSA) for television and radio for the Be Ready. Be Buckled. campaign, featuring NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace, to combat low safety belt use among the nation's Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) drivers.

Since his retirement in 2005, Wallace has moved from the track to the broadcasting booth as an analyst for ESPN and ABC Sports. As a recognizable icon in the racing industry, Wallace has lent his distinction to the DOT to encourage the use of safety belts by commercial motor vehicle drivers. In the message, Wallace tells drivers that "Safety is a professional driver's responsibility."

"This ad reminds truckers that, as professional drivers, they are responsible for handling their vehicles and themselves in the safest manner possible," Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator John H. Hill said. "With just a little bit of his time, Mr. Wallace's personal commitment to promoting public safety is helping save lives on America's highways."

The 2006 CMV driver safety belt usage study found that only 59 percent of CMV drivers wear safety belts compared to 81 percent of passenger vehicle drivers. In accordance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR), a CMV which has a seat belt assembly installed at the driver's seat shall not be driven unless the driver has properly restrained himself/herself with the seat belt assembly. FMCSA safety regulations require all commercial motor vehicle drivers to use proper restraints, but in 2006, 45 percent of truckers killed in a crash were not wearing safety belts. The following are additional CMV crash statistics:

  • Of the 188 drivers killed who were ejected from their vehicles, almost 80% were not wearing safety belts.
  • 52% of truck-occupant-fatalities in large trucks involve a rollover.
  • About 23,000 large truck occupants suffered nonfatal injuries in crashes; of these, 4,000 were seriously injured.
  • 73% of truck drivers killed, who were not wearing a safety belt, were involved in single vehicle crashes.

Many drivers do not choose to buckle up because they feel it is uncomfortable or too restricting. However, correctly adjusting the seat once at the beginning of each work day as well as adjusting the safety belt at the beginning of each trip is a quick and easy way to prevent discomfort. This is also very important in short trips, because crashes occur when you least expect it, and many times at low speeds. It only takes about three seconds to buckle up, and a driver could buckle 20 times a day and only spend one minute! That one minute could make the difference between life and death.

There are many reasons why safety belts are so effective in reducing injuries and fatalities for large trucks. According to the FMCSA:

  • Safety belts, especially lap/shoulder belts, spread the stress and impact forces of a crash along the stronger and broader areas of the body, such as the hips and shoulders, thereby limiting injuries.
  • Safety belts prevent serious injuries and fatalities by minimizing the possibility of truck occupants striking the steering wheel, shirt lever, windshield, dashboard, side doors and windows, roof, and other occupants.
  • In a crash, a safety belt keeps the driver in place behind the steering wheel and in control of the vehicle, thereby avoiding or reducing the consequences of an accident.
  • Safety belts can keep you from being knocked unconscious, improving your chances of escape. Fire or submersion occurs in less than five percent of fatal large truck crashes.
  • 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!

FMCSA's mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks, and is dedicated to increasing safety belt use among commercial motor vehicle drivers. Through initiatives like Be Ready. Be Buckled., and with the help of supporters like Wallace, drivers will hear the important message: "...professional truck drivers need to buckle up, every trip, every time. Remember, you're the one who drives...for a living."

For more information regarding FMCSA and the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Program visit www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safetybelt or contact Melissa Mazzella DeLaney at (202) 366-2309.