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Truck driving ranks as deadliest profession in 2015

Jan. 6, 2017
According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study, 745 truck drivers died while on the job in the United States in 2015. That ranks as the most fatalities for any profession.

According to a Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) study, 745 truck drivers died while on the job in the United States in 2015. That ranks as the most fatalities for any profession.

A truck driver is defined by the BLS as someone who operates a tractor-trailer combination or a truck with a capacity of at least 26,000 pounds and has a commercial driver license. The 745-driver death total actually was lower than in 2014, when 761 truck driver deaths occurred.

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Sean McNally, spokesman for American Trucking Associations, said, “The safety of our drivers, and of all motorists, is of paramount importance to the trucking industry. That’s why as an industry we invest more than $9.2 billion in safety technology and training annually, and that investment is having an impact. Since 1980, the number of fatal truck-involved crashes has fallen 32%, while the crash rate per 100 million miles has dropped an astounding 74%. Over that time, trucks have a crash rate that is 28% lower than all vehicles on the road.”

Fatal work injuries involving transportation incidents increased in 2015, the BLS reports. Roadway incidents climbed 9% to 1,264, accounting for 26% of all fatal work injuries. Nearly half of these deaths (629) involved a semi, tractor-trailer or tanker truck. Of the 253 non-roadway fatalities, the vehicle most frequently involved was a farm tractor (73).

For the United States, the 4,836 fatal workplace injuries in 2015 were the most since 5,214 in 2008. However, the overall rate of fatal work injury—3.38 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers—was lower than 2014’s rate of 3.43. Twenty-one US states reported higher numbers in 2015 than in 2014, and 29 states and the District of Columbia reported fewer. Reporting record-low numbers were these six states: Alabama, Alaska, Indiana, Maine, Virginia and West Virginia.

“ATA is committed to making our roads safer by focusing on the root causes of crashes: aggressive driving, speeding, impaired and distracted driving,” said McNally. “As our roads become busier, it is incumbent on all drivers to do their part to improve safety. One of the primary risks to truck driver safety, unfortunately, is the behavior of other drivers. Numerous studies … highlight the fact that roughly two-thirds of all fatal truck crashes are caused by a vehicle other than the truck. The best way we can make our workplace—the open road—safer is to make driving safer for everyone, and the best way we can do that is through education like ATA’s Share the Road Program and enforcement of traffic laws aimed at reducing dangerous behaviors.”

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