Study shows many drivers forego seat belts

Transportation companies are concerned with completing long haul and regional runs, as well as last-mile delivery, in a timely manner. When pickups and deliveries aren't made on schedule, a firm's reputation is compromised and it may struggle to satisfy its clients.

But safety is one area in which companies are unwilling to compromise, no matter how off schedule deliveries may be. When drivers try to make up for lost time by speeding or taking unapproved roads that may not be the most direct route, they risk using more fuel, getting further off track or even getting into an accident on the road.

Some drivers ignore safety rules
While it may be possible for fleet managers to set maximum speeds, track a driver's location or ensure they're following protocol when it comes to certain aspects of on-road safety, it may be difficult for them to always guarantee drivers are wearing their seat belts. Fastening a safety belt may seem like the most basic rule when behind the wheel, but new research shows plenty of employees are foregoing their seat belts. Those who do may be not only ignoring company policy, but also risk breaking the law in states or municipalities that mandate seat belt use.

Recent research from Sweden's National Society for Road Safety, known in Swedish as the NTF, found more than half of professional drivers don't buckle up before hitting the road. While most claimed to wear their seat belts in their personal cars, the majority failed to fasten them while on the job. Those who skipped this necessary safety step said it was too time consuming, difficult or inconvenient to take the belt on and off.

Seat belts increase driver safety
Many drivers are aware they ought to buckle up before driving, but those who don't may not fully realize the benefits a seat belt offers. In fact, the World Health Organization's (WHO) "Global Status Report on Road Safety 2013" revealed seat belt use was one of the key aspects to improving safety on highways across the globe.

"In recent years belt usage has increased among truck drivers, but even so, fewer than half use the safety belt," said Carl Johan Almqvist, traffic and product safety director at Volvo Trucks. "And that's despite the fact that both our own and other European research has revealed that at least 50 percent of truck drivers who lost their lives in traffic would have survived if they had been belted in. Of all truck drivers involved in fatal accidents, only five percent were wearing their safety belts,"

Because seat belt use is so critical to ensuring drivers are protected should they be in a collision, it's critical for transportation companies to ensure their employees are not only well versed in the advantages of buckling up, but actively doing so. Before they start their engines or determine which roads a fleet manager's routing software has deemed it most effective to take, drivers should fasten their seat belts or face severe repercussions.