Jun 8, 2023

Official Report Says More Truck Drivers Dying From Not Using Seat Belts

Despite numerous campaigns and laws mandating the use of seat belts by truck drivers, a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows an alarming increase in fatal motor vehicle crash accidents due to not wearing seat belts. According to the report, 2019 saw a whopping 843 truck drivers lose their lives in crashes where they were not buckled up. This marks an increase of more than 20% from the previous year and is the highest number recorded in over a decade.

Do you want to focus more on your daily operations and not stress out yourself and your fleet? It is convenient and practical to be part of a Consortium/Third-Party Administrators (C/TPAs) like Labworks USA to manage all, or part, of an employer's DOT drug and alcohol testing program and other DOT or FMCSA compliance needs. THIS WILL YOU A LOT OF TIME AND RESOURCES that you can redirect on any unprecedented additional expenses. We perform tasks as agreed to by the employer to assist in implementing the drug and alcohol testing program and to help keep the employer compliant with the DOT/FMCSA Drug and Alcohol Testing rules and regulations.
We as a DOT Consortium can help you.

The NHTSA has been tracking this trend for several years now and has found that although overall traffic fatalities have decreased, deaths among truck drivers continue to rise.

So why does a simple step for truck driver safety always taken for granted? 

If it has brought so many truck crashes resulting in crash fatalities, why is it that Law Enforcement Agencies still find it hard to strictly implement this considering the rising fatality rates? 

Do trucking companies make sure that it is on their company safety policies?  

Let's have a deep-dive conversation about this issue in this article. 

Truck Drivers and Seat Belt Usage

It is a well-known fact that seat belts save lives and reduce the risk of severe injury in case of an accident. However, some truck drivers continue to neglect this simple safety measure, putting their lives at risk.

Here are some of the common types of motor vehicle crashes:

  • Single-vehicle crashes, two-vehicle crashes, multiple-vehicle crashes

  • Bus crashes, fatal bus crashes, or fatal crashes,

  •  Frontal Crashes

  • Rollover Crashes

  • Injury Crashes

  • Property-Damage-Only crashes

  • Road Traffic Crashes

These all involve both private and commercial driver who doesn't follow strict compliance with the seatbelt law resulting in motor vehicle deaths. 

According to a recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more and more truck drivers are dying because they do not wear seat belts. 

The report states that 843 occupants of large trucks died in crashes in 2019, and only 420 (50%) were wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.  This means that half of the fatalities could have been prevented if the victims had fastened their seat belts. The NHTSA also found that among those who died while driving trucks, only 40% were using seat belts. (1)

Moreover, in 2021, 64% of truck drivers killed in crashes of large trucks were not wearing a seat belt, according to the latest data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That compares with 59% in 2019 and 44% in 2020.

Data on deaths of large-truck occupants (drivers or passengers) reveals that 42.6% were wearing a seat belt. Of those who were not, nearly 75% were totally ejected from the truck.

There has never been a lowest rate report because every year, this has been increasing. Imagine that rate of seat belt uses could have saved lives. What a tragic report for the fatalities of truck drivers. 

The risk factors are high. The risk for injury is very high. Front-seat occupants are the most at risk. Other road users will be at risk. These traffic crashes can be avoided if this unsafe driving behaviors can be corrected. 

Truck drivers face many hazards on the road, including fatigue, distracted driving, and inclement weather conditions. In such situations, wearing a seat belt can be crucial for their survival. It is essential for trucking companies to educate their drivers on the importance of using safety restraints while operating commercial vehicles.

They should enforce strict policies, through comprehensive driver safety programs, mandating seat belt usage, and provide training programs to improve driver awareness about road safety measures like this one.

Trucking companies, together with some law enforcement officers and Motor Carrier Safety inspectors, could collaborate to have a seat belt campaign promoting maybe through National Seat belt use day.

Statistics: Increase in Truck Driver Fatalities

Truck driving is one of the most dangerous occupations in America. While it offers competitive wages and job security, it also presents inherent risks due to long hours on the road and unpredictable traffic conditions. To mitigate these dangers, federal regulations mandate that truck drivers wear seat belts at all times while operating their vehicles. However, a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has revealed that an increasing number of truck drivers are losing their lives because they fail to buckle up.

According to the NHTSA's data analysis, nearly half of all large truck occupants killed in crashes in 2019 were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident.

Quick Tip: Here's a list of DOT Consortium services we offer at Labworks USA with respective rates that can be your reference to have better expense projections.

Reasons Why Truck Drivers Don't Use Seat Belts

One of the reasons why truck drivers don't use seat belts is because they believe that it restricts their movement and can be uncomfortable during long hauls. The misconception that seat belts limit their mobility can make them feel constrained, especially when performing tasks like reaching for a drink or food. Some may also think that they're better off not wearing one in case of an accident since being thrown clear of the vehicle might be safer.

Another reason is the lack of enforcement and compliance with regulations. Truck drivers are often on tight schedules to deliver goods, leading some to cut corners, including skipping safety measures like wearing seat belts. Additionally, some drivers may have been driving for years without incident and so feel invincible to accidents, leading them to disregard safety rules.

Lastly, there could be a lack of awareness about the importance of wearing a seat belt among truckers. Some may come from countries where safety regulations are not as strictly enforced or may have never received proper training regarding safe driving practices. Raising awareness through education campaigns and stricter enforcement could help address this issue and save lives on the road.

Consequences: Impact on Families and Industry

The consequences of truck drivers not using seat belts have far-reaching impacts on both families and the industry. Families are left to deal with the devastating loss of loved ones who could have been saved if they had simply buckled up. Not only do these families suffer emotionally, but they may also face financial burdens such as funeral expenses and lost income.

On the industry side, companies may be held liable for accidents caused by their drivers not wearing seat belts. This can lead to legal battles, damaged reputations, and decreased profits. Additionally, as more accidents occur due to this issue, insurance premiums may rise for trucking companies across the board.

Overall, the failure to use a simple safety measure like a seat belt has ripple effects that impact numerous individuals and entities beyond just the driver themselves. It is essential for all parties involved in the trucking industry to prioritize safety measures such as proper seat belt usage in order to prevent further tragedies from occurring.

Solutions: Education and Enforcement Efforts

Education and enforcement efforts are two solutions that can be implemented to reduce the number of truck drivers dying from not using seat belts.

Driver knowledge doesn't always equate to drive compliance. Attention to licensed drivers, female drivers,  adult drivers, adolescent drivers, passenger vehicle drivers/passenger car drivers,  company drivers, ride-hailing drivers, school bus drivers, and all American drivers, please comply with this safety measure.

Education efforts can involve providing more training and information on the importance of wearing seat belts while driving. This can include mandatory training during driver orientation, refresher courses, or safety briefings before each trip.

Enforcement efforts can involve stricter consequences for not wearing a seat belt while driving, such as fines or even loss of license. Random spot checks could also be performed to ensure compliance with seat belt laws. If the speed limit law is important, as as this. Additionally, technology can play a role in enforcement by implementing sensors that detect whether a driver is wearing their seat belt and alerting authorities if they are not.

While education and enforcement efforts may require some initial investment, the potential cost savings in terms of lives saved and reduced healthcare costs could outweigh these expenses in the long run. It is important for both trucking companies and government agencies to take action in addressing this issue through these solutions to prevent further deaths from not using seat belts while driving.

This is one of the smartest strategy every trucking company could implement to avoid more fatal injuries.

Success Stories: Companies Implementing Safety Measures

One company that has successfully implemented safety measures is UPS. They have a comprehensive safety program called "Circle of Honor" that rewards drivers who have driven without an accident for 25 years or more. This incentivizes their drivers to prioritize safety on the road. Additionally, UPS has invested in technology such as collision mitigation systems and electronic logging devices to further increase safety.

Another company that has made strides in implementing safety measures is Amazon. They recently announced a partnership with Safe Kids Worldwide to provide free car seats to families of delivery drivers. This ensures that their drivers are properly securing their own children while also promoting safe driving practices among their workforce. Amazon also uses real-time data analysis and GPS tracking to monitor driver behavior and identify potential risks before they become accidents.

Overall, companies like UPS and Amazon are setting a standard for others in the industry by prioritizing employee and public safety through proactive measures and partnerships with organizations dedicated to promoting safe practices on the road. It is crucial for all companies operating vehicles on the roadways to follow suit in order to reduce accidents, injuries, and fatalities caused by unsafe driving practices.

Conclusion: Importance of Buckling Up for All Drivers

In conclusion, it is important for all drivers to buckle up while driving. This includes truck drivers who are at a higher risk of injury or death due to their occupation. According to an official report, more and more truck drivers are dying as a result of not using seat belts. This is alarming and highlights the need for increased awareness and enforcement of seat belt laws.

Buckling up can save lives in the event of a crash by reducing the risk of ejection from the vehicle and minimizing injuries caused by impact. Moreover, seat belts are a simple yet effective safety measure that can prevent serious or fatal injuries in most accidents. It is therefore crucial for all drivers to prioritize their safety by wearing seat belts every time they get behind the wheel.

While it may seem like an inconvenience or unnecessary step, buckling up should be considered an essential part of safe driving practices. By doing so, we can protect ourselves and others on the road from harm and contribute towards creating a safer driving environment for everyone.

If you have further inquiries regarding truck driving and other DOT compliance needs, feel free to reach out to us at Labworks USA. Check out some of our services here.



(1) FreighWaves, Feds report more truck drivers dying from not using seat belts, https://www.freightwaves.com/news/feds-report-more-truck-drivers-dying-from-not-using-seat-belts

If you are looking for more information about drug and alcohol testing as a truck driver, visit LabWorks USA. Our DOT Consortium's friendly team will be more than happy to discuss any concerns you may have and work with you to ensure you are always fully compliant specially with random DOT drug and alcohol testing pre-employment testing. Moreover, if you need help with FMCSA Clearinghouse registration, we can further support you.