CDC: 1 in 6 truck drivers doesn't wear a seat belt

CDC: 1 in 6 truck drivers doesn't wear a seat belt
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A failure to use seat belts is the main reason why crashes are the leading cause of on-the-job deaths for truck drivers in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

After dropping to 35-year lows in 2009, the CDC found that the number of crashes involving trucks increased from 2009 to 2012. Forty percent of the 700 truck drivers or their passengers who were killed in 2012 could have been saved by buckling up, the CDC found.

The March report released Tuesday also found that 1 in 6 drivers of large trucks doesn't use a seat belt and that one-third of long-haul truck drivers have been involved in one or more serious crashes during their careers. The drivers who reported not wearing their seat belts also tended to engage in other unsafe driving behaviors like speeding.

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“The smartest strategy for overall safety is to prevent truck crashes from happening in the first place,” Stephanie Pratt, coordinator of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s Center for Motor Vehicle Safety, said in a release.

“Employers can help prevent crashes and injuries through comprehensive driver safety programs that address other known risk factors such as drowsy and distracted driving.”

The CDC recommended states increase state troopers increase seat belt law enforce and motor carrier safety inspectors. As for employers, the CDC said company safety policies including seat belt use requirements and bans on text messaging should be established and enforced. The agency said drivers should also be educated about ways to avoid distracted or drowsy driving.

Despite an increased number of accidents, lawmakers have been trying to allow more truck drivers to work overnight shifts by easing federal truck scheduling regulations.