When a simple seatbelt could save you

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Updated Jul 10, 2018

Do you wear your seatbelt running down the road? I’ve met owner-ops that do, I’ve met plenty who don’t. One once told me he’d prefer to take his chances on being rattled around the cab and thrown out during an accident, versus the small possibility he might be trapped in the aftermath of an accident by the seatbelt itself.

That way of thinking may be common when it comes to seatbelt usage, but in crashes like one investigated recently in Kentucky, you can be sure it’s wrong if preservation of one’s life when the worst happens is the goal.

The report attached here was put together by the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research agent of the department of public health as part of the state Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program. It details an investigation of a single-vehicle crash of a straight dump hauling on a two-lane in Kentucky in August of last year. The basics of the wreck included the driver taking a turn in the road perhaps too fast, and leaving the pavement, then rolling the rig off an embankment onto its passenger side, where its fuel tank ruptured and ignited.

Several recommendations are made in the report, directed not only at drivers but road and shoulder-barrier/signage designers.Several recommendations are made in the report, directed not only at drivers but road and shoulder-barrier/signage designers.

While proper road-embankment management might have prevented the rupturing of the fuel tank and resulting fire, as singled out in the report, for the driver in this case, the fact that he had not been wearing a seatbelt also looms large in the end result of his tragic passing at age 54 during the crash. The driver was apparently knocked unconscious by the crash and ended up on the passenger side of the vehicle, thus closest to the ground and to the greatest intensity of the subsequent fire. Despite nearby residents’ attempts to get to the driver, the fire was ultimately too intense, witnesses reported, and the driver perished. Had a seatbelt in use prevented his immobilizing nearer the ground, things might have been different.

Read the full report via this link, one that at the least may get you thinking about your own on-road practices. Though I don’t drive truck, I know it did the same for me.

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Seatbelt violations trending up in recent years

Results above are from federal data mined for the for-hire trucking population by RigDig Business Intelligence, showing a general upward trend, though the most recent calendar year’s violation numbers were down nationally.

For those concerned about getting out of a vehicle after a crash when a seatbelt release mechanism gets locked, I’m reminded of a recent press release about a crowd-funding campaign for a ‘Cut-N-Go’ seatbelt cutter that is installed on belts and utilized only in an emergency when a belt needs to be cut. Like some other emergency cutters and window-breaking devices, it attaches to the belt itself, but has some unique features as well. Read more about it here.