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22 CHAPTER 6 COMMERCIAL DRIVER FOCUS GROUPS 6.1 INTERVIEW METHODOLOGY time to 99% of the time. Those who claimed "nearly always" stated that the 1% non-use occurred in places such as truck Research team members held two focus groups with CMV stops, when they were prone to removing their safety belts drivers in Utah. The first was held at the American Truck- before they parked. One driver stated that he wore his safety ing Association's National Truck Driving Championships belt 60 to 70% of the time, with frequency of use depending (NTDC), and driver competitors formed the focus group. on what route he was driving on any given day. As an LTL Seven NTDC drivers offered insight into their use of safety driver, he might have to stop as frequently as every block, belts, as well as perspectives on general driver population which reduced the chance of him wearing a safety belt. This safety belt use. The second focus group took place at a pri- was due to a desire not to make the effort of putting on a vate trucking company terminal (Company A) in Garfield, safety belt when it would have to be removed shortly and also Utah. Four drivers, two mechanics, and one terminal manager due to forgetting to use the safety belt. made up the second focus group. The terminal was a HazMat When participants were further probed as to why they tanker operation with a combination of long-haul and local chose to wear safety belts, a staunch user of safety belts stated deliveries. that he wanted to avoid tickets from law enforcement. A driver Research team members used the same structured interview who wore his belt only 20% of the time reported that when guide from the CMV driver truck stop visits (see Appendix D); he did wear his belt, it was when he noticed that those who questions on trucking-related and driver demographics were were driving cars near him were operating their vehicles in omitted. Each question was posed to the entire group, and an unsafe manner. Finally, an LTL driver who wore his belt answers were given by any participant who wanted to add to 60 to 70% of the time again reinforced the idea that when the conversation. Notes were taken at the focus groups. The delivering door-to-door, it was not convenient or habitual to focus groups were conducted in three parts: constantly use a safety belt. He admitted that he continued this behavior even though company policy forbade it, and he · Part 1: General Questions. This section's questions had received a great deal of training on the subject. generally focused on the percentage of time the driver Of the valid or purposeful reasons not to wear a safety belt, wore a safety belt when driving a truck, the basis for that discomfort was a top choice. One participant stated that the choice, and what reasons were considered valid for not safety belt system locked on drivers and that was a good rea- wearing a safety belt. son not to wear one. The group was then pressed further to dis- · Part 2: Functionality. This section concentrated on cuss safety belts that locked. It was revealed by one participant safety belt comfort, usability, complaints, and the poten- that many drivers did not know how to use the lock strap prop- tial for improvements. erly and that most drivers did not know how to use the system · Part 3: Carrier/Driver Interactions. In this final sec- that allowed for shoulder straps to be adjusted for greater com- tion, the focus group leaders and participants discussed fort (participants stated this system was widely available). company policy, penalties, rewards for desired behavior, While participants did not propose "forgetting to put on the and potential incentives. safety belt" as a valid reason for not wearing it, they again admitted that forgetfulness could become habitual when mak- 6.2 PRINCIPAL INTERVIEW RESULTS ing numerous deliveries in a short period of time. The group generally condemned the infringement of rights argument, 6.2.1 Part 1: General Questions stating it was flawed because, in part, drivers were using someone else's vehicle. Finally, regarding being trapped by a Initial discussion of safety belt use focused first on general safety belt in a vehicle crash, participants claimed that this was questions about use and reasons for particular usage behav- a concern and a possibility, but not a valid reason for not wear- ior. During the NTDC focus group, drivers responded that ing a safety belt. One participant had never heard of a case they wore safety belts when driving a truck from 20% of the where a driver had been trapped in a vehicle by a safety belt.
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23 For the Company A group, the response was that they wore and might stay off well after the toll had been cleared. While the belt 100% of the time working for Company A, but did not some drivers maintained that they had no complaints about necessarily use the belt 100% of the time before moving to the safety belts overall, when asked what their biggest complaint company. (Some of these drivers had previous experience was, participants often listed several items. One driver made it with other companies before working for Company A. Com- clear that while he liked the safety belt tight on his body, he did pany A has a very strong policy.) Now that it was a habit and not like it when it rubbed his skin. When the topic of pads to these drivers knew more about the hazards of not wearing a alleviate the rubbing was mentioned, drivers stated that the safety belt (through training), they would still wear it if there pads had problems, including that they did not stay in place. It were no longer a policy. One participant stated having children/ was also suggested that padding was costly, and that compa- grandchildren helped: "They ask `why' if you are not wearing nies should provide padding to their drivers on an annual basis. it (your safety belt)." Consensus was that older drivers wore Drivers agreed almost unanimously that nothing could safety belts because as they got older, they had a greater appre- make the current standard safety belt, the three-point system ciation for life. Several participants witnessed cases where with lap and shoulder belts, any easier to use. But when the lives could have been saved if drivers were wearing safety idea of a reminder buzzer was proposed, the group was split. belts. Some felt that the buzzer would help them remember to wear When answering the same question related to non- a safety belt, as it was intended to do; but, others felt that the commercial vehicles, the consensus was most, but not all of buzzer would be bothersome and/or anger them and that there the time. Reasons included old habits and car safety belts not would be a way for a driver to override the buzzer system. being as comfortable as truck safety belts. One participant claimed that if a short-route driver had a Company A employee answers to "why you choose or buzzer, deliveries would take forever, indicating that if short- don't choose to wear a safety belt" included the following: route drivers had to wear a safety belt, deliveries would be less efficient or timely. Safety belt use among short-route · Company policy drivers was thus implied to be infrequent during deliveries. · Termination of employment for non-compliance The Company A drivers/employees expressed similar opin- · Protection from bad drivers ions. For the most part, they found truck safety belts more · Possibility of being maimed and permanently disabled comfortable than those in their private vehicles. They liked the more of an incentive than death "big handle clip" for adjusting tension but did not care for the "small wedge." ("It doesn't always hold and you end up hav- The only reason for not wearing a safety belt seemed to be ing to readjust.") Neck-chafing was also their biggest com- forgetting. The Company A drivers indicated that they did plaint. They all agreed that buzzers and lights would be a good not feel that wearing safety belts infringed on their personal addition, making truck systems similar to cars. freedom but that they had heard that from other drivers. They also recognized the "being trapped" argument as an old myth. 6.2.3 Part 3: Carrier/Driver Interactions 6.2.2 Part 2: Functionality All NTDC focus group drivers stated that their companies had safety belt use policies in place. This difference from the When initially asked about the discomfort of safety belts results of the driver interviews can possibly be attributed to being a deterrent for use, there was an initial consensus the types of drivers and companies that participate in the among the NTDC focus group that comfort was not a major American Trucking Associations' NTDC. They are deemed issue, although the locking belt problem had surfaced earlier. to be the best in the industry in safety. The consequences for One participant stated that safety belts could be adjusted for violating company policy varied and included warnings, comfort, while another claimed that changing the belt to be write-ups, and suspensions. It was indicated that much of the any more comfortable than it already was might compromise policy enforcement engaged in by companies occurred on safety. company land. It was concluded that some drivers therefore However, some specific instances of discomfort were dis- removed their safety belt once they were out of sight of com- covered through further discussion. They again maintained pany enforcement. that discomfort was present when the safety belt locked up, There were few responses regarding rewards from compa- especially while backing up the truck or when the brakes nies for safety belt use. One participant mentioned that if were applied. It was also said that cars did not have the same they were viewed wearing their safety belts, their names belt locking problems that trucks had. would appear in a special section of the company newsletter. Furthermore, the harness strap was found to cause discom- Another mentioned that there was a jacket giveaway at one fort when drivers reached upward or downward to give money point in his career. A final participant mentioned that law at toll booths. Toll booths seemed to be a place where a safety enforcement personnel had been known to pull over truck belt might be taken off to decrease pain when paying the toll drivers who were wearing their safety belts and congratulate
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24 them. Several drivers felt this recognition should be more through shocking videos, general reenactments, or statistics, widespread. were all mentioned as ways to change behavior; these, how- There were several answers to the question of incentives to ever, are not true incentives to changing behavior. They use safety belts among CMV drivers, but most efforts or poten- equate to an education of the negative results of undesired tial efforts discussed were, in fact, instances of negative re- behavior. inforcement. One participant remarked that maintaining a Company A also has a strong policy; a driver can be fired clean record, and thus retaining reasonable insurance rates, was for a first offense if observed on the road not wearing a safety incentive enough. This would indicate a push toward greater belt. Wearing a safety belt was a condition of employment. government enforcement of safety belt laws or a push toward Company A provided numerous educational courses and sta- greater use of primary laws (those where a driver could be tistics about previous driver fatalities where safety belts pulled over just because he or she was not wearing his safety would have made a difference. These drivers agreed that belt). It also indicated that insurance companies should training helped them break their old habits of not wearing or increase the penalties for those who did not wear their safety forgetting to wear a safety belt. Driver recognition included belts and were penalized for it. There was also an indication a ring that required 3 consecutive years without any accidents/ that higher fines would encourage behavior modification. injuries/safety violations to earn. Not wearing a safety belt Regarding educational incentives, showing the results of was one of those violations. Two diamonds were added for crashes where a driver was not wearing his safety belt, either each additional 3 years. A full ring contained 8 diamonds.