Seat belt usage is an ongoing safety concern in the trucking industry. Commercial drivers have been required to wear seat belts for over two decades. Today the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) publishes an amendment to the driver seat belt rule requiring all passengers in property-carrying Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) to wear seat belts. The rule will go into effect on August 8th of this year, holding truck drivers and carriers responsible to ensure that all passengers are properly buckled.

“Seat belts save lives—period,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Whether you’re a driver or passenger, in a personal vehicle or large truck, the simple act of wearing a safety belt significantly reduces the risk of fatality in a crash.” According to the FMCSA’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) 34% of truck occupants killed in fatal crashes were not wearing seat belts.

In December the American Trucking Association (ATA) published comments on the proposed ruling supporting the ruling’s intent to increase safety belt usage, but expressing concerns over the burden on drivers and carriers to enforce the rule. Yesterday 17 commenters weighed in on the new rule with four dissenters echoing the ATA’s apprehensions. The FMCSA asserts that this rule is simply an extension of many current state laws holding passenger car drivers responsible for passenger seat belt usage and FMSCA regulations charging carriers with driver compliance.

Sleeper berth restraints are not mentioned in the ruling as the FMCSA says it “has no information on the effectiveness of current sleeper berth restraints in reconciling crash protection with fatigue prevention.”

Passenger-carrying CMVs are not included in the new rule.


Photo Credit: CCJ