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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

2016 Safety Belt Fact Sheet


Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Belt Use in 2016—Overall Results 

The Seat Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers (SBUCMVD) Survey showed that the overall safety belt usage rate for drivers of all medium and heavy duty trucks and buses rose from 84% in 2013 to 86% in 2016. The survey is a nationally representative field data collection program that provides estimates of safety belt restraint use by drivers and occupants of medium and heavy duty commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). 

Since the inception of this study in 2007, overall safety belt use for drivers has steadily increased each year from a use rate of 65% in 2007 to the current high of 86%. 

Other highlights from this study: 

  • In 2016 safety belt use in states governed by secondary belt use laws rose 7%.
  • The usage rate for drivers and other occupants in the West, Midwest, and South were 87% compared to the Northeast at 71%.
  • CMV driver and occupant safety belt usage stands at 84% for females and 86% for males, which is a slight increase from 2013.
  • School buses and 15-passenger van drivers’ safety belt usage rates surpassed 90%.
  • Usage rates were higher on expressways (89%) compared to surface streets (83%).
  • Safety belt usage in heavy traffic (86%) continues to be higher than in light traffic (83%).

Survey Scope 

The SBUCMVD 2016 Survey used a probability-based sample to observe safety belt usage by drivers and other occupants of CMVs throughout the United States. Specifically, data collectors observed the use of shoulder belts across the front of drivers and other occupants in medium and heavy duty trucks and buses (those with at least 6 tires). Statistical significance is indicated using 5 percent significance level. 

Data collection for the SBUCMVD 2016 Survey was conducted in August 2016. Data collection sites were chosen from a randomly selected sample of sites across the United States. A total of 39,319 CMVs were observed at 1,008 sites. Teams of spotters and recorders collected data through observation on weekdays and weekend days during daylight hours. Data collected included the type of CMV, location, weather conditions, and characteristics of drivers and other occupants. 


A jurisdiction that can enforce traffic laws has a primary enforcement law if occupants can be ticketed for simply not using their seat belts. A secondary enforcement law requires occupants to be stopped for another violation before being cited for seat belt nonuse.  Expressways are defined as roadways with limited access, while surface streets are all other roadways.

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Last updated: Wednesday, November 8, 2017