Truck Crashes Cause 65% of On-The-Job Deaths for Commercial Drivers: Study

Traffic accidents are the leading cause of on-the-job deaths for commercial truck drivers in the U.S., killing nearly 700 drivers and passengers in 2012, according to the findings of a recent federal study. 

The a report by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the agency’s Vital Signs publication, reveals large truck crashes are not only becoming a big problem, but are contributing to many deaths and injuries across the country.

Researchers indicate that many of these deaths may have been prevented with stronger safety programs or if truckers wore seat belts.

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In 2012, there were more than 317,000 truck crashes involving commercial vehicles with a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds. More than 2.6 million workers drive trucks that weigh over 10,000 pounds.

Of the 700 drivers or passenger who died in 2012, the report concludes more than 40% could have been saved by simply wearing seat belts. More than one-third of truckers who died in crashes in 2012 were not wearing their seat belts. Truck crashes cause 65% of on-the-job deaths for commercial drivers in the U.S.

Large truck accident deaths increased between 2009 to 2012, despite the dramatic drop in frequency to 35 year lows in 2009.

The report suggests that for every driver who died in a large truck crash, six other people were also killed, either in other vehicles, as pedestrians or cyclists. Additionally, for each commercial driver who died, on average 35 other people injured in the truck accident.

Overall, one in three truck drivers have been involved in a serious crash during their career. At least one in eight drivers have had two or more crashes.

One in six drivers of large trucks reported not using their seat belts in 2013, despite federal regulations mandating seatbelt use. Six percent of drivers reported during a 2010 study to never wearing a seat belt.

The report revealed more than 26,000 truck drivers or passengers were injured in vehicle collisions in 2012.

The cost of large truck crashes on the economy was nearly $40 billion in 2012. This translated into a total cost of $99 billion when taking into account accidents with injuries or property damage.

CDC officials emphasized many of the accidents can be prevented if employers take certain actions. They call on employers to implement driver safety programs at the highest level of leadership, establish and enforce driver safety policies, promote safety belt use in training and safety meetings and involve workers in decisions about how to put seat belt programs in place. They also call on employers to address factors that contribute to crashes in driver safety programs, such as drowsy and distracted driving.

“Trucker safety requires an alert, buckled-up, experienced driver, with a reliable vehicle and strong employer safety programs,” said the CDC report.

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