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Page last reviewed: 09/28/2007
Highlights
  • newPreventing Backovers. OSHA, (2013).
  • The Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) has partnered with the Department of Transportation in Drive Safely Work Week 2012. They also provide distracted driving resources and meaningful education and awareness activities to keep workers safe.
  • Safe Driving Practices for Employees [32 KB PDF*, 1 page]. OSHA Quick Card. Provides a list of safe driving practices in English and Spanish.
  • Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes. OSHA/National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)/Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) Publication. Also available as a 251 KB PDF, 35 pages. Represents a joint effort to reduce motor vehicle-related deaths and injuries in the nation's workforce.
  • Motor Vehicle Safety Facts [409 KB PDF*, 1 page]. OSHA Fact Sheet. OSHA in partnership with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a promotional campaign, "Every Belt - Every Ride" at the National Safety Congress.
  • Motor Vehicle Safety Symposium Agenda. OSHA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), (2004). Also available as a 342 KB PDF, 1 page. Provides the agenda for the joint OSHA/NHTSA Safety Symposium held at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in New Orleans, LA. There were panel discussions on the value of Seat Belt Programs and how to manage them effectively.
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Motor Vehicle Safety

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Table A-6. Fatal occupational injuries resulting from transportation incidents and homicides by occupation, All United States, 2010 [181 KB PDF, 15 pages], more than 1,766 deaths a year result from occupational transportation incidents. That number is more than 38 percent of the 4,547 annual number of fatalities from occupational injuries. While fatal highway incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal work-related event, transportation incidents decreased slightly in 2010 relative to 2009, but still accounted for nearly 2 out of every 5 fatal work injuries in 2010. More... [152 KB PDF, 13 pages].

OSHA requirements for the motor vehicle industry are addressed in specific standards for agriculture and marine terminals.

Standards

This section highlights OSHA standards, standard interpretations (official interpretation of the standards), and other federal standards related to motor vehicle safety.

OSHA

Note: Twenty-five states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands have OSHA-approved State Plans and have adopted their own standards and enforcement policies. For the most part, these States adopt standards that are identical to Federal OSHA. However, some States have adopted different standards applicable to this topic or may have different enforcement policies.

Agriculture (29 CFR 1928)

  • 1928 Subpart C, Employee operating instruction
    • 1928.51, Roll-over protective structures (ROPS) for tractors used in agricultural operations.

Marine Terminals (29 CFR 1917)

Standard Interpretations

Other Federal

Note: These are NOT OSHA regulations. However, they do provide guidance from their originating organizations related to worker protection.

US Department of Labor (DOL)

  • 29 CFR Part 500 Subpart D, Motor Vehicle Safety and Insurance for Transportation of Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers, Housing Safety and Health for Migrant Workers, Volume: 3, (2012, July 1). The following are topics related to vehicle safety:
    • 500.100, Vehicle safety obligations. Motor Vehicle Safety
    • 500.101, Promulgation and adoption of vehicle standards
    • 500.102, Applicability of vehicle safety standards
    • 500.103, Activities not subject to vehicle safety standards
    • 500.104, Department of Labor standards for passenger automobiles and station wagons and transportation of seventy-five miles or less
    • 500.105, DOT standards adopted by the Secretary

US Department of Transportation (DOT)

Construction

For information related to construction, see OSHA's Motor Vehicle Safety - Construction Safety and Health Topics Page.

Hazards and Solutions

Most of the occupational fatalities occur on public highways where there are seat belt requirements and traffic laws between the hours of 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. The following references aid in recognizing motor vehicle hazards, and provide examples of possible solutions.

Hazard Recognition

  • Motor Vehicle Safety. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Workplace Safety and Health Topic. Provides information on motor vehicle-related topics such as general information, crash statistics, and more. The risk of roadway crashes associated with on-the-job operation of motor vehicles affects millions of US workers. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that in 2009, nearly 3.6 million workers in the U.S. were classified as motor vehicle operators. Nearly 43% (1.55 million) of these motor vehicle operators were employed as heavy truck (including tractor-trailer) drivers. More...

  • Work-Related Roadway Crashes. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2004-137, (2004, March). Includes information on background and trends, worker characteristics, industry and occupation characteristics, and more. From 1992 through 2001, roadway crashes were the leading cause of occupational fatalities in the US, accounting for 13,337 civilian worker deaths (22% of all injury-related deaths).

  • NIOSH Update: Ways to Prevent Job-Related Roadway Deaths, Critical Research Areas Identified by NIOSH. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (2003, November 6). Employee deaths in roadway crashes increased by 18.7 percent from 1992 to 2000, totaling 11,952 over the nine-year period.

  • The Economic Burden of Traffic Crashes on Employers: Costs by State and Industry and by Alcohol and Restraint Use. National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration (NHSTA). Reports that by preventing motor vehicle crashes, the potential health care savings are substantial. Motor vehicle injury costs to employers are included in this report on a nationwide, state-by-state, and industry basis.

  • Fatigue, Alcohol, Other Drugs, and Medical Factors in Fatal-to-the-Driver Heavy Crashes. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Aircraft Accident Report SS-90/01 (NTIS PB90-917002), (Adopted February 5, 1990). From NTSB toxicological tests, the Safety Board found that 33 percent of the fatally injured drivers tested positive for alcohol and other drugs of abuse. Fatigue and fatigue-drug interactions were involved in more fatalities in this study than alcohol and other drugs of abuse alone. A disproportionately high percentage of drivers who used drugs are single, separated or divorced.

  • Highway Work Zones are potentially hazardous for both motor vehicle drivers and the personnel working in the zone. For additional information on these hazards and controls, see OSHA's Highway Work Zones and Signs, Signals, and Barricades Safety and Health Topics Page.

Possible Solutions

  • National Survey of Distracted and Drowsy Driving. US Department of Transportation (DOT), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), (2003, July). Reports that driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes, according to a landmark research report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). Nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event. Provides references to programs, information, and statistics.

  • Work-Related Roadway Crashes: Challenges and Opportunities for Prevention. US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-119, (2003, September). Provides a comprehensive view of issues impacting the prevention of work-related roadway crashes. Identifies the single most important driver safety policy that employers can implement and enforce as the mandatory use of seat belts. NHTSA estimated that in 2000, the use of seat belts prevented 11,889 fatalities in the United States and could have prevented 9,238 fatalities that did occur.

  • Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office: Benefit. US Department of Transportation (DOT), Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), (1997). Summarizes the findings of a series of interviews with commercial vehicle operators across the United States.

  • Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC). US Department of Labor (DOL), Office of Worker's Compensation Programs (OWCP), Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC). Provides data from the Safety and Health and Return to Employment (SHARE) Initiative to reduce workplace injury and illness rates.

  • Highway Work Zones are potentially hazardous for both motor vehicle drivers and the personnel working in the zone. For additional information on these hazards and controls, see OSHA's Highway Work Zones and Signs, Signals, and Barricades Safety and Health Topics Page.

Workplace Vehicle Safety

Unlike other workplaces, the roadway is not a closed environment. Preventing work-related roadway crashes requires strategies that combine traffic safety principles and sound safety management practices. Although employers cannot control roadway conditions, they can promote safe driving behavior by providing safety information to workers and by setting and enforcing driver safety policies. Crashes are not an unavoidable part of doing business. The US Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has identified steps employers can take steps to protect their employees and their companies.

References

  • Traveling on Federal Business? OSHA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Also available as a  427 KB PDF, 1 page. Requires Federal employees to use seat belts.

Additional Information

Related Safety and Health Topics Pages

Case Studies

Other Resources

  • Traffic Safety in Marine Terminals. OSHA Publication 3337-07, (2007). Helps the maritime industry avoid traffic accidents and prevent or reduce work-related fatalities and injuries.

  • Every Belt -- Every Ride. OSHA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Provides online information on motor vehicle safety. Also available as a 367 KB PDF, 1 page.

  • Operating Motor Vehicles: A Guide for Employees in the Automotive Repair Industry. Coordinating Committee For Automotive Repair (CCAR). This training guide is a product of the OSHA and CCAR Alliance. It was designed to help employees in the automotive repair industry understand their responsibilities while driving a motor vehicle for their company, recognize the "4 A's of Defensive Driving", and identify the significance of the "No Zone."

  • Share the Road Safely. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Works to improve the knowledge of all highway users to minimize the likelihood of a crash with a large truck, and reduce the consequences of those that do occur. Educates people about how to prevent accidents, injuries, and deaths by sharing the road safely with other types of vehicles.

  • Z15 Standard for Motor Vehicle Operations. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). Recommends practices for the safe operation of motor vehicles owned or operated by organizations including: definitions; management, leadership and administration; operational environment; vehicle considerations and incident reporting and analysis.

  • Transportation Practice Specialty. American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE). Provides a variety of resources and links those interested in transportation safety to leading transportation safety experts.

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