DEKRA pushes seat belt campaign

March 1, 2003
We absolutely must ensure that lorry drivers put their safety belts on just as automatically as car drivers do, said Klemens Grosse-Vehne, chairman of

We absolutely must ensure that lorry drivers put their safety belts on just as automatically as car drivers do,” said Klemens Grosse-Vehne, chairman of the board of DEKRA Automobil GmbH at the presentation of the safety belt campaign organized by the German Road Safety Council (DVR) at the Commercial Motor Show in Hanover. More than 90% of car drivers and front-seat passengers now automatically buckle up before the car starts to move. Things are different, however, with the drivers of vans and lorries.

Less than one heavy lorry driver in five puts his safety belt on, according to traffic surveys carried out by DEKRA on German motorways to study the safety belt behavior of about 1,900 truck drivers. In the case of lighter trucks and vans up to 7.5 tonnes (16,500 lb) GVW, only 38% of drivers buckle up. The picture is even more alarming in city-centre traffic, where even fewer drivers wear safety belts.

“Realistic crash tests in the DEKRA crash center in Neumünster have demonstrated impressively the benefit of the safety belt, even on heavy lorries,” said Alexander Berg, manager of DEKRA accident research. Since 1994 DEKRA has carried out more than 100 crash tests with light trucks and heavy lorries at its crash center in Neumünster.

“Vehicle manufacturers have accumulated and made good use of a great deal of knowledge about safety in the driver's cab,” said Berg. The rigidity of the cab has been increased in order to improve the survival area for the occupants. Retention systems have been improved. In addition to the safety belt, lorries are increasingly being fitted with airbags.

The DEKRA accident research department demonstrated publicly that belts really do work. In a crash test, the forces imposed on the dummy wearing the safety belt were below the biomechanical limit. However, the dummy that was not wearing one simply flew through the windshield. If that had been a real human being, he probably would have suffered serious injuries.

In addition to these crash tests, the DEKRA accident research department has researched more than 100 accidents in which lorries were involved. In more than 10%, the occupants of the driver's cab were thrown out of it, and 55% of them lost their lives.

DEKRA AG, Handwerkstrasse 15, D-70565 Stuttgart, Germany.