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COMMERCIAL MOTOR VEHICLE DRIVER SAFETY BELT USAGE SUMMARY This synthesis focuses on (1) the motivating factors that influence commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers in deciding whether to wear safety belts and (2) research and suggested practices that address CMV safety belt usage. The Federal Motor Car- rier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is keenly interested in efforts that will yield increased safety belt usage. This synthesis supports this FMCSA interest and its goals to increase safety belt usage. The initial step in this research project was a summary of available information in the safety literature and in other sources on the factors that influence CMV drivers to use or not to use safety belts in their daily operations, including a special focus on driver moti- vational factors. The literature review identified and annotated past and current ongoing research on safety belt use by CMV drivers, not only in the United States, but in other countries as well (Australia and the United Kingdom are key examples). Much of the additional information on CMV driver motivations relating to safety belt usage was collected through two surveys. The first focused on fleet managers, gauging their approaches and policies relating to safety belt use by their drivers. The second effort focused on the drivers themselves and was gathered through interviews at truck stops and through more structured group interviews. The fleet manager survey included 120 respondents, based both on mail distribution and collection at meetings of trucking industry associations. This survey consisted of 36 questions, including general questions and questions relating to fleet methods to pro- mote safety belt use, government/industry programs to promote use, general comments, and demographic questions. The fleet manager survey results are explained in detail in Chapter 4. The managers listed the following major reasons their drivers might not use safety belts: 1. Too much trouble and effort 2. Just forget 3. Habit 4. Belt does not fit well 5. Uncomfortable for other reasons 6. Restricts movement in vehicle
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2 7. Infringes on personal freedom 8. Worried about being trapped in vehicle 9. Don't believe belts increase safety 10. Just don't like them 11. Part-time users; e.g., only in bad weather With respect to methods that fleet managers used to promote use, the three top-rated methods were rewards/recognition for observed use, observing driver belt use in vehi- cles, and punishments/reprimands for non-use. Other methods were also identified, and there were indications that fleet managers used multiple approaches to encourage driv- ers to use safety belts. The highest rated method involving industry and government programs was showing crash testing with test dummies with and without safety belts. The principal driver survey, involving 238 respondents, was a structured interview conducted at two truck stop locations, one in Georgia and one in Wisconsin. The on-site random interviews were based on an interview guide that contained 18 questions, includ- ing general questions and questions about safety belt functionality, carrier/driver inter- actions, and trucking and driver demographics. The detailed results of these interviews are presented in Chapter 5. The interview population indicated that the substantial majority wore safety belts all or most of the time. They chose to wear a belt primarily because of safety, because it was the law, it was a habit, or they had seen or been in an accident. For those who did not choose to wear a belt, the primary reason related to com- fort, personal choice, or dislike. For those drivers who felt that truck safety belts should be more functional, they listed the following issues relating to functionality: 1. Limited range of arm and shoulder motion 2. Lap belt or shoulder harness is not long enough/too tight 3. Shoulder harness position is awkward 4. Belts ride too high or too low Some 62% of drivers did have complaints about safety belts. The major complaints were as follows: 1. Safety belt rubs or vibrates against neck/shoulder 2. Safety belt locks 3. Safety belt is uncomfortable 4. Safety belt is too tight 5. Safety belt has limited range of motion The major reasons drivers gave that would make a safety belt easy to use were that it should not be too tight, not interfere with driving, be easy to put on and take off, and be easy to position. With respect to carrier and fleet interactions, most drivers who responded to these questions indicated that there is no penalty for non-use, and there are no special incentives that would encourage them to use safety belts. Chapter 6 of this synthesis reviews the results of two focus groups held with a num- ber of drivers in group settings. These results were similar in many respects to those of the driver interviews and also included general questions and questions about func- tionality and carrier/driver interactions. The regulatory framework relating to safety belt use by CMV drivers is set out in Chapter 3. A review of ergonomic and human engineering factors in design and use or non-use of safety belts in commercial trucks as well as approaches to facilitating safety belt use
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3 by truck manufacturers is included in Chapter 7. The research team ergonomist exam- ined the interactions of generally used 3-point safety belts with a range of drivers and in different types of truck cabs. The research team also visited original equipment man- ufacturers (OEMs) to examine installation of current seat and safety belt designs and to study differing approaches used in new large trucks. In general, the assessment was that the majority of safety belts were practical and functional and that newer belts had features that made them even more user-friendly. However, current belts were not as comfortable or effective with large- or small-statured individuals. Also the assessment found that many drivers observed were not fully aware of the features that made belts both comfortable and easy to use. The assessment also included additional ergonomics and human factors considerations such as ride quality and comfort and interaction of air-ride seats with safety belts. New technologies for safety belt comfort and user- friendly design were also discussed. Chapter 8 contains general conclusions of the synthesis, including a discussion of the suggested practice techniques used by transportation managers--especially fleet managers--to encourage and potentially enforce safety belt usage as a part of fleet management safety operations. These practices were drawn from the literature review and responses to the fleet manager and driver surveys. These suggested practices include improved educational and motivational efforts on the part of fleet managers to increase safety belt usage and to use or install those belts which have comfort and ease of use features. Chapter 8 also presents recommendations relating to potential research to further improve knowledge on motivational factors affecting safety belt usage. Throughout the conduct of this study, the research team coordinated its efforts with the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Partnership (the Partnership) to ensure that surveys and activities were consistent with the work of the Partnership, especially in the area of surveys and research activities.