Seat belts save lives

Seat belts are important in preventing deaths and serious injuries in a crash and should be worn by all people travelling in vehicles including trucks.

Crash statistics show that:
  • an estimated 40 unbelted heavy vehicle drivers lose their life in Australia every year
  • seat belts would have prevented or reduced the injuries suffered by truck drivers in at least 60 per cent of the crashes studied
  • if heavy vehicle seat belt wearing rates matched the rate achieved by car drivers, it would reduce unbelted truck driver deaths by about half.

Why seat belts are important in trucks

A seat belt stops drivers and passengers being thrown around, striking the cab interior, steering wheel, windscreen – or being thrown out of the truck.

An integrated seat belt/suspension seat will enable the driver to remain in their seat and thereby maintain better control of the truck and hopefully avoid crashing.

Myths and facts

Here are some common myths about wearing seat belts in trucks.

Myth: It's safer to jump free of a crash than be restricted by wearing a seat belt.
Fact: Truck drivers have a 50 per cent better chance of surviving a potentially fatal crash if they are wearing a seat belt.

Myth: I can hold on to the steering wheel in a crash.
Fact: The forces involved in a crash are massive and only a seat belt is strong enough to hold you in your seat.

Myth: If I wear a seat belt and the load shifts, I'll be crushed.
Fact: Seat belts improve your chances of surviving a crushed cabin. Most cabins are crushed by hitting an object not by the load shifting.

Myth: I don’t wear a seat belt because the truck might catch fire and I’ll be trapped.
Fact: Your chances of getting out improve if you remain conscious by wearing a seat belt. A seat belt can reduce the likelihood of injuries by 60% and therefore improves your chances of getting out.

What the law says

As wearing a seat belt is so important for preventing death and injury, there are tough penalties for drivers who break the law.

Penalties can include significant fines and loss of demerit points.

Under Occupational Health and Safety legislation, employers are obliged to insist truck drivers wear seat belts.

Employers have a legal ‘duty of care’ to ensure a driver’s safety in the workplace and can:

  • ensure appropriate restraints (seat belts) are fitted in all company vehicles
  • require seat belts to be worn by drivers and all passengers travelling in company vehicles
  • require seat belts to be worn by fork lift operators
  • ensure seat belts are regularly checked and maintained for wear and tear
  • provide counselling to anyone found not wearing a seat belt
  • organise for the gateman not to let any truck leave the premises without the driver wearing a seat belt
  • place a poster/sign or message on the road at the front gate with a buckle up message.

Retro fitting seat belts

If you are buying an older truck, you can easily retrofit seat belts.

Most B-Pillar anchored seat belts can be retrofitted with an integrated seat belt/suspension seat replacement. However, some vehicles require engineering and cab modification. In this case, a reputable seat supplier will inspect your vehicle to ensure the structural integrity of the cab and report any deficiencies.

Retro-fitting your vehicle has been made easier through a National Type Approval Scheme for a wide range of Belt-in-Seat installations. Information about this scheme is available from Vehicle Standards Bulletin 13 downloadable from

www.infrastructure.gov.au (External link)

To find out more about Retro-fitting Seat Installations visit the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development website (External link)

To find out more about integrated seat belts/suspension seats visit the National Transport Commission website (External link)

The Seat belts Save Lives initiative is proudly supported by VicRoads and the other members of the Victorian Road Freight Advisory Council and the Transport Industry Safety Group.

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