The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a final rule in the Federal Register on June 7 requiring that all passengers traveling in property-carrying commercial motor vehicles wear seat belts.
The rule, effective Aug. 8, holds motor carriers and drivers responsible for ensuring that passengers riding in property-carrying CMVs are using seat belts. “Occupants would include instructors, evaluators or any other personnel who might be seated in a property-carrying CMV, regardless of their status,” the agency said.
Since 1990, federal regulations require manufacturers of trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds to install seat belts or a “complete passenger protection system” at every seating position in a truck, the rule said. FMCSA’s most recent research from 2014 found that commercial motor vehicle passengers use seat belts at a lower rate (73 percent) than CMV drivers (84 percent).
The agency rejected arguments in comments on the proposed rule that a carrier would have no control over nondrivers riding in a truck. That notion contradicts existing requirements that prohibit the transportation of anyone without specific written authorization from the carrier.
“The motor carrier, therefore, has knowledge of each occupant of the property-carrying vehicle and can easily require that authorized passengers buckle up,” FMCSA said. FMCSA did not address the topic of current sleeper berth restraints because commenters “provided no information that would enable the agency to address that topic in this rulemaking.”