The use of seat belts by commercial drivers continues to increase, hitting a record high, according to newly released U.S. Transportation Department figures.

The Seat Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Survey shows that the overall safety belt usage rate for drivers of all medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses rose from 78% in 2010 to new high of 84% in 2013. 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 the first year.

“It’s a fact that when drivers and passengers buckle-up, their odds increase dramatically for surviving a crash,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “The results of our 2013 survey show that in just the last three years more commercial drivers are getting the message, and we will continue working through programs like the art contest to encourage the remaining 16 percent to buckle-up.”

Other highlights from this study:

  • Safety belt use was higher in states governed by primary belt use laws, 85%, than secondary belt use laws, 78%.
  • The usage rate for drivers and other occupants in the West was the highest at 91% compared to the Northeast, which had the lowest rate at 76%. The Midwest rate was 79%, while the rate for the South was 83%.
  • Dump truck drivers, with the lowest usage rate among truck drivers, rose from 65% to 70%.
  • Usage rates were higher on expressways, 86%, compared to surface streets, 78%.
  • Safety belt usage in heavy traffic, 85%, continues to be higher than in light traffic.

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, according to DOT.