Truck Driver Fatalities at Highest Rate in Six Years: Where’s the Impact of Safety Regulations Like New HOS Rules?

Truck Driver Fatalities at Highest Rate in Six Years: Where’s the Impact of Safety Regulations Like New HOS Rules?

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released a shocking new research study, which reports that more commercial truck drivers have died in truck accidents in 2014 than in the past six years.

This means that in the face of safety measures like changes in Hours of Service rules, more truckers are in danger of being killed while on the job than before.

Read the BLS report here. (It’s actually the work of the BLS’s Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI).)

Truck Driver Risk of Death on the Job Highest in 6 Years

Last year, workers who died in transportation accidents accounted for 40% of all on-the-job fatalities in the United States. That’s almost half.

Drivers were clearly one of the most at risk groups in the total of American on-the-job fatalities: in 2014, 725 tractor-trailer drivers died in on the job accidents.

It’s true that other jobs are growing even more dangerous, too. Consider the following excerpt from the BLS Report:

1. Construction Workers

Construction fatalities in 2014 were the highest reported total since 2008.

2. Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Hunting Worker Fatalities

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting fatalities were 14% higher in 2014.
Forestry and logging worker deaths were the highest total since 2008.
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting recorded the highest fatal injury rate of any industry sector in 2014.

3. Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction worker deaths were 17% higher in 2014
Worker deaths in the oil and gas extraction industries were 27% higher in 2014.

Working construction is extremely dangerous. Working in mines or in fracking operations, ditto. However, commercial truck drivers still face a risk of death on the job that is SEVEN times higher than the national average.

This is an important statistic not just for truck drivers and their families, but for all of us who share the roads with them. In most truck crashes, other vehicles are involved. When there is an accident serious enough to cause the death of the truck driver, then the likelihood is that there will be other fatalities in that crash.

New York Times Op-Ed: “The Trucks Are Killing Us”

Recently, the New York Times published an op-ed piece entitled, “The Trucks Are Killing Us,” written by Howard Abramson. The piece points to the horrific truck crash involving a WalMart commercial truck and the limo carrying comedian Tracy Morgan and his friends. In that crash, the truck driver was killed as well as one of the limo passengers and Morgan was seriously injured.

The editorial argues that these kinds of fatal truck crashes will continue — endangering both truck drivers and those who share the roads with them — unless Congress does more to corral the trucking industry and its safety standards.

In response, the trucking industry’s American Trucking Association issued its response, claiming that there were “… several falsehoods, both implied and intentional, in the text that deserve a response.” You can read their response here.

Now the BLS Research Study has been released.

For those of us driving on Indiana and Illinois roadways, where lots of these big rig semi trucks roll by us every day at high speeds, it’s important to consider the danger involved to all of us in traffic shared with commercial trucks.

And in truck crashes, where innocent victims have been hurt or killed, these statistics are even more important to evaluate in determining liability and cause.

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