Do you drive team? Do you ride along with your spouse or vice-versa? According to a recent study done by the University of Kentucky’s College of Public Health, passengers riding in the sleeper-berth are at significant risk of injury and death when they don’t use their safety restraints. In fact, non-use of occupant restraints is the primary reason that sleeper-berth occupants are injured or killed in a severe crash.
The study was headed by Dr. Terry Bunn, director of the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center. Bunn said that the study reviewed 708 semi-truck collisions where there was a passenger in the sleeper who was either injured or killed.
Even though it is a federally mandated law that all drivers have to be wearing a seatbelt while operating a vehicle, there is no regulation in place that would require other occupants to take any sort of safety precaution. Because of this, after seeing the results, Bunn suggested that carriers should enforce a policy that would require all occupants of a moving commercial motor vehicle to have use safety restraints at all times.
Dr. Bunn also said that her team polled truck drivers to find out why they weren’t using the safety restraints on their sleeper.
“The main reason is that [sleeper berth] restraints restrict movement and impede good sleep, as they are ‘too tight’ on occupants, especially if the truck driver is large,” she noted. “They say they feel like they’re sleeping in a cargo net.”
There’s also a fear that the restraints might end up trapping the occupant in the event of a fire or vehicle rollover. Mostly though, drivers just said that they felt that the restraints weren’t necessary.
Despite their reluctance, Bunn said that the drivers her team talked to said that they would use restraints if they could be changed to be more comfortable. Since the design of the restraints hasn’t changed much in the past 40 years, making them a little more comfortable could go a long way towards keeping drivers safe; perhaps a lot longer than creating another rule that drivers don’t want to follow.
If you, your team driver, or anyone you know spends any time in the sleeper while the truck is in motion, you should seriously consider using your safety restraints. Yes, they’re uncomfortable, but they could very well save your life.
Image Source: cdc