New rule affects driver jobs

A new rule about seatbelts from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is considering a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) requiring passengers riding in property-carrying commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) to use safety belts, which will affect driver jobs.

Federal rules have long required all commercial drivers to use safety belts (49 CFR 392.16); this proposed rule would hold both trucking companies and commercial truck drivers responsible for ensuring that any passenger riding in the truck cab are also buckled up.

Approximately 275 occupants of large trucks killed in crashes in 2013 were not wearing their safety belts, according to the most recently available data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Section 393.93(b)(2)-(3) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) (49 CFR 393.93) requires every truck and truck tractor manufactured after the early 1970s to comply with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 208 (49 CFR 571.208), relating to the installation of seat belt assemblies, as well as FMVSS 210, dealing with the installation of seat belt assembly anchorages, and FMVSS 207, addressing seating systems more generally.

Under FMVSS 208, trucks and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a GVWR of more than 10,000 pounds manufactured on or after September 1, 1990, are allowed by S4.3.2.1 an option to comply by providing a “complete passenger protection system,” but nearly all CMV manufacturers choose the second compliance option (S4.3.2.2) and install a “belt system.”

This second option requires a seat belt assembly “at each designated seating position.” In short, the FMVSS and FMCSRs require seat belts at every seating position in a CMV.

In addition, 49 CFR 392.16 requires that a 5 property-carrying CMV which has a seat belt assembly installed at the driver’s seat shall not be driven unless the driver has properly restrained himself or herself with the seat belt assembly. FMCSA proposes to require that passengers riding in property-carrying CMVs also use their seat belts when the vehicle is operated on public roads.