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Transportation Occupations Most Common Cause of Workplace Fatalities

Truck driving is riskier than many people think.


Transportation had the highest incidence of fatal work injuries, according to the latest “Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries” report released by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The number of fatal work injuries that occurred in 2016 by transportation and material moving workers was 1,388, out of a total 5,190 fatal work injuries in the U.S. This represents a 7 percent increase over the amount of fatal injuries reported in 2015. This is the first time more than 5,000 fatalities per year have been recorded since 2008.


Fatal work injuries that involved transportation accounted for 40 percent of the overall number of reported on-the-job fatalities. Fatal work injuries that result due to falls, slips or trips continues to increase, a trend that has had an upward spiral since 2011. Falls increased by 25 percent for several occupations, including heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers. Death caused by overdoses from non-medical drugs or alcohol increased by 32 percent in 2016.


Another key finding of the 2016 DOL Fatalities Census includes the highest number of fatal injuries for workers who are age 55 or older. This represents 36 percent of all on-the-job fatalities.


Anytime a truck driver gets into a vehicle, they face the possibility of an accident. Unfortunately, an accident that involves a big rig has a higher chance of causing a serious injury or fatality. Understanding what causes semi-truck accidents can help reduce serious injury or death.


Most accidents that occur involving an 18-wheeler are due to driver error. Driver error is an all-encompassing category that includes:

·        Lack of proper judgement

·        Speeding

·        Failing to see potential dangers

·        Failing to react appropriately

·        Using a mobile device

·        Not being aware of blind spots

·        Driving when fatigued

·        Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Other common factors that can impact accidents include inclement weather or dangerous road conditions (such as construction zones). It is not uncommon for major accidents to occur due to loss of control of the vehicle due to the weight, height, and length of trucks and their loads. If a load is not secured properly it may affect the driver’s ability to control the vehicle when the load moves and shifts. Mechanical failure and damage to the semi-truck can impact the safety of the vehicle. If an 18-wheeler is not maintained properly or not used in an appropriate manner it can lead to an accident.


Abiding by established rules and regulations within the industry can significantly reduce accidents and related injuries and fatalities. Taking advantage of the many technologically-advanced safety and security features on today’s big rigs can help drivers prevent serious accidents. Electronic logging devices track how many hours a driver has been driving as well, helping to prevent driver fatigue.  Wise owner-operators will focus on safe driving habits in order to increase the safety of their time behind the wheel. Join AAOO to gain exceptional member benefits that can help you make and save more money as well has live a healthier life. Contact us here to learn more.

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Kyle Mitchell
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