drivingMotor vehicle accidents were the leading cause of occupational fatalities in the U.S. in 2012, accounting for 25% of deaths. Truck drivers accounted for 46% of these deaths.

One reason for that fatality rate among truckers might be a startling fact recently revealed in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report: one in six long-haul truck drivers (LHTDs) do not wear seat belts.

The numbers

Using data from its 2010 national survey of LHTD health and injury, the CDC found that:

  • An estimated 86.1% of LHTDs reported using a seat belt often
  • 7.8% used it sometimes
  • 6.0% never use it

Researchers also crunched the numbers of truckers who reported never using a seat belt with other factors associated with unsafe driving, like often driving ≥10 mph (16 kph) over the speed limit (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.9), working for a company with no written safety program (AOR = 2.8), receiving two or more tickets for moving violations in the preceding 12 months (AOR = 2.2), living in a state without a primary belt law (AOR = 2.1); and being female (AOR = 2.3).

They concluded that approximately 14% of LHTDs are at increased risk for injury and death because they do not use a seat belt on every trip.

Safety programs and other management interventions, engineering changes, and design changes might increase seat belt use among LHTDs.

Implications for public health

The CDC noted that primary state belt laws can help increase belt use among LHTDs. Additionally, manufacturers can use recently collected anthropometric data to design better-fitting and more comfortable seat belt systems.

Click here to read the complete report.