Work-related deaths among truckers highest since 2008

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 9/18/2015

Deaths among professional drivers went up in 2014. More than 700 heavy and tractor-trailer drivers died as a result of occupational injuries last year, according to the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries. That is the highest fatality count since 2008.

There were more fatalities in the transportation and material moving goods industry than any other industry, accounting for 28 percent of all fatal occupational injuries. In total, 1,289 workers in the transport industry died on the job in 2014, a 3 percent increase from 2013 and the highest total since 2008. Nearly two-thirds of deaths in the transportation and material moving goods industry involved drivers/sales workers and truck drivers.

Across all industries, 40 percent of fatal workplace injuries were the result of transportation incidents, up slightly from 2013. More than half of fatal transport incidents were “roadway” incidents. Right behind roadway incidents, pedestrian vehicular incidents caused the second most transport deaths at 17 percent. Rail incidents increased 34 percent from 41 in 2013 to 55 last year.

According to the National Safety Council, motor vehicle deaths went up by .08 percent last year to 35,400. At the current rate, 2015 is projected to have 37,630 motor vehicle deaths, an increase of 6 percent compared with last year. The council suggests that 2015’s increased fatality rate reflects lower fuel prices and the resulting increase in vehicle mileage.

Accounting for all workers in the United States, 4,679 work-related fatal injuries occurred in 2014, up 2 percent from 2013. Since 2010, there has been a steady increase in workplace deaths, averaging 173 more cases a year.

The largest annual increase in 2014 occurred in the mining, agriculture, manufacturing and construction industries. Deaths among government workers went down 12 percent. Workers 55 years of age and older did not fare so well. Among that age group, 1,621 workers suffered fatal injuries, up 9 percent and the highest total on record.

Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries’ latest occupational injuries results are preliminary for 2014. A more comprehensive collection of data will be released in the late spring of 2016.

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