Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Crashes Cause Most On-the Job Deaths Among U.S. Truckers

Crashes involving large trucks remain a concern for truck drivers, passengers and other motorists, as well as businesses and communities. Overall, 317,000 motor vehicle crashes involving large trucks were reported to police in 2012, according to the latest Vital Signs report by CDC. The estimated cost of truck and bus crashes to the U.S. economy was $99 billion that year.

The number of truck driver or passenger crash fatalities increased from 2009 to 2012 after a reported 35-year low in 2009. In 2012, 700 drivers of large trucks or their passengers died in crashes, with an estimated 26,000 individuals injured. In total, 65% of on-the-job deaths of truck drivers that year were the result of a motor vehicle crash, with a third of those not wearing a seat belt.

The CDC report includes data from the National Survey of U.S. Long-Haul Truck Driver Health and Injury, conducted by CDC at 32 truck stops along interstate highways across the U.S. in 2010.

Key findings include: 
  • An estimated 14% of long-haul truck drivers reported not using a seat belt on every trip. 
  • More than one-third of long-haul truck drivers had been involved in one or more serious crashes during their driving careers. 
  • Long-haul truck drivers who reported not wearing seat belts also tended to engage in other unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding and committing moving violations. They were also more likely to work for an employer that did not have a written workplace safety program. 
  • Long-haul truck drivers who lived in a state with a primary seat belt law–the law that allows police to stop motorists solely for being unbelted–were more likely to report often using a seat belt. 
“Using a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent injury or death in the event of a crash,” says Stephanie Pratt, Ph.D., coordinator of NIOSH's Center for Motor Vehicle Safety. “The smartest strategy for overall safety is to prevent truck crashes from happening in the first place. Employers can help prevent crashes and injuries through comprehensive driver safety programs that address other known risk factors such as drowsy and distracted driving.”

Additional information on motor vehicle safety at work (including trucker safety) is available at the NIOSH Motor Vehicle Safety page as well as the NIOSH Long-Haul Truck Drivers page.