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New national public-private partnership to combat low safety belt use

U.S. Department of Transportation, Jan 26, 2005

Transportation Secretary  today announced a new national public-private partnership to combat low safety belt use among the nation's 11 million truck drivers. The announcement was prompted by a new national study released by the Secretary that found only 48 percent of all commercial vehicle drivers wear safety belts.

"If you are one of the more than five and a half million truck drivers who choose not to wear your safety belt, I have a message for you. Uncle Sam wants you, no, needs you to buckle up," Secretary Mineta said at an event in Atlanta. "Today, we launch the broadest effort this country has ever seen to get truckers to wear their safety belts."

Nationally, 79 percent of passenger vehicle drivers wear safety belts. In comparison, the low number of truck drivers buckling up has taken a severe toll. In 2002, of the 588 commercial drivers killed in crashes more than half were not wearing safety belts. Of the 171 drivers who were ejected from their trucks, almost 80 percent of them were not wearing safety belts.

Last year trucks moved over seven trillion dollars worth of clothes, food and everyday products across the nation's highways, underscoring the need to reduce the impact of truck crashes.

"You cannot be fully in control of your truck unless you are wearing a safety belt," said Ralph Hamilton, a commercial truck driver for Old Dominion Freight Line and a captain in "America's Road Team." America's Road Team is a national public outreach program led by professional truck drivers who have superior driving skills, remarkable safety records, and a strong desire to spread the word about safety on the highway. The program is sponsored by the American Trucking Associations.

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