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Roughly 475,000 large trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds are involved in crashes which result in approximately 5,360 fatalities and 142,000 injuries each year. Of the fatalities, about 74 percent were occupants of other vehicles (usually passenger cars), 3 percent were pedestrians, and 23 percent were occupants of large trucks. The unsafe actions of automobile drivers are a contributing factor in about 70 percent of the fatal crashes involving trucks. More public awareness of how to share the road safely with large trucks is needed. Safe speeds save lives. Exceeding the speed limit was a factor in 22 percent of the fatal crashes. Greater speed enforcement is needed.

The following information is related to safety and health in the trucking industry:

Trucker Illnesses and Injuries

Common Trucker Injuries

  • Strains and sprains (50 percent)
  • Bruises
  • Fractures
  • Cuts and lacerations
  • Soreness and pain
  • Multiple traumatic injuries
Events or Exposures Leading
  • Overexertion
  • Contact with object
  • Being struck by an object
  • Falling (on the same level)
  • Transportation accidents
Fatality and Injury
  • Large Truck Crash Facts 2000 (PDF). Analysis Division of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA), (2002, March). Reports that over the past 20 years (1980 to 2000), there has been a 39 percent increase in registered large trucks and a 90 percent increase in miles traveled by large trucks. Over the same time period, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes each year has declined by 8 percent, and the vehicle involvement rate for large trucks in fatal crashes has declined by 52 percent.
  • Put the Brakes on Fatalities Day: October 10. American Society of Civil Engineers. Indicates that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) early projections, the number of traffic fatalities fell three percent between 2009 and 2010, from 33,808 to 32,788. Since 2005, fatalities have dropped 25 percent, from a total of 43,510 fatalities in 2005. The same estimates also project that the fatality rate will be the lowest recorded since 1949, with 1.09 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from the 1.13 fatality rate for 2009. The decrease in fatalities for 2010 occurred despite an estimated increase of nearly 21 billion miles in national vehicle miles traveled.
  • Fatalities and Injuries Among Truck and Taxicab Drivers (PDF). Knestaut, A. Compensation and Working Conditions, (1997, Fall). Identifies truck driving (From 1992 to 1995) as having the most fatalities of all occupations, accounting for 12 percent of all worker deaths. About two-thirds of the fatally injured truckers were involved in highway crashes. Truck drivers also had more nonfatal injuries (over 151,000) than workers in any other occupation in 1995. Half of the nonfatal injuries were serious sprains and strains; this may be attributed to the fact that many truck drivers must unload the goods they transport.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook. US Department of Labor (DOL), Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Serious Violations Cited 1997-2002

  • Improper guarding of grinding machinery
  • Lack of eyewashes and showers
  • Unsafe forklifts
  • Grounding of electrical equipment
  • Lack of personal protective equipment
  • No guardrails on platforms or loading docks
General Trucking Safety

Over the past 20 years (1983 to 2003), there has been a 44-percent increase in registered large trucks and an 86-percent increase in large truck miles traveled. Many workers are at high risk of injury and death from traffic-related motor vehicle crashes. About three workers die from these crashes each day.

  • Large Trucks (PDF). National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), National Center for Statistics and Analysis. Reports that in 2004, 416,000 large trucks (gross vehicle weight rating greater than 10,000 pounds) were involved in traffic crashes in the United States; 4,862 were involved in fatal crashes. A total of 5,190 people died (12% of all the traffic fatalities reported in 2004) and an additional 116,000 were injured in those crashes. In 2003, large trucks accounted for 3 percent of all registered vehicles and 7 percent of total vehicle miles traveled (2004 registered vehicle and vehicle miles traveled data not available). In 2004, large trucks accounted for 8 percent of all vehicles involved in fatal crashes and 4 percent of all vehicles involved in injury and property-damage-only crashes. One out of eight traffic fatalities in 2004 resulted from a collision involving a large truck.
  • Commercial Driver's License Program (CDL/CDLIS). Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Identifies the goal of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1986 (which was signed into law on October 27, 1986) as improvement of highway safety by ensuring that drivers of large trucks and buses are qualified to operate those vehicles and to remove unsafe and unqualified drivers from the highways. The Act retained the state's right to issue a driver's license, but established minimum national standards that states must meet when licensing CMV drivers.
  • 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 overview of crash data, the regulatory environment, and risk factors that contribute to workplace crashes. Identifies the groups of workers at greatest risk of traffic crashes, summarizes key issues that contribute to work-related roadway crashes, and recommends preventive measures for employers and other stakeholders.
  • US Department of Transportation (DOT). The information below provides links to the primary safety sites within the DOT. Truckers are an integral part of the movement of materials between air, land, and sea.
  • Air

    • Safety. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Develops and implements improved tools and processes to facilitate more effective use of safety data, both inside and outside the agency, to help improve aviation safety.

    Land

    • Reducing Highway Fatalities. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). Reports nationally, in 2011, 32,885 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the United States - the lowest number of deaths since 1949 (30,246 fatalities in 1949). In addition, 2010 saw the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded: 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010, compared to 1.13 deaths for 2009. The number of people injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2010 declined for a 11th straight year in a row, falling an estimated 2.9 percent from 2009.
    • Driving Safety. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Provides information on distracted driving, driver education, and occupant protection among other topics.
    • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Office of Safety Analysis. Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). Makes available railroad safety information including accidents and incidents, inspections and highway-rail crossing data. Users can run dynamic queries, download a variety of safety database files, publications and forms, and view current statistical information on railroad safety.

    Sea

    • Marine Safety Center. US Coast Guard (USCG). Works directly with the marine industry, the Commandant, and Coast Guard field units in the evaluation and approval of commercial vessel and systems designs, development of safety standards and policies, response to maritime casualties and oversight of delegated third parties in support of the Coast Guard's marine safety and environmental protection programs. The US Coast Guard in now part of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
  • Stress Factors Experienced by Female Commercial Drivers in the Transportation Industry. Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Health & Safety (elcosh). Reports that according to 1998 occupational injury and illness data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), truck drivers, as compared to other occupations, experienced the largest number of injuries and illnesses with time away from work over the latest five years for which data is available (1992-1996). During this time, the number of injuries and illnesses declined for all occupations by about 20 percent, but the number increased by nearly five percent (up to 151,300) for truck drivers, with women accounting for 17.6 percent.
  • A Summary - Improving Safety. US Department of Transportation (DOT). Summarizes the Driver and Vehicle Safety Programs authorized by TEA-21, the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, including the alcohol programs, seat belt and occupant protection programs, state and community grants, state highway safety data Improvement Incentive Grants, Highway Safety Research and Development, National Driver Register, Automobile Safety and Information, and for Railway-Highway Crossings-Operation Lifesaver, Motor Carrier Safety programs, as well as other infrastructure programs.
  • U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta Announces FMCSA Rule Permitting Performance Brake Testing Technology. US Department of Transportation (DOT), (2002, August). Allows motor carriers and federal, state, and local enforcement officials to use performance-based brake tests to determine whether a truck or bus complies with brake performance safety standards. PBBTs are expected to save time and their use could increase the number of CMVs that can be inspected in a given time. The new rule applies to all CMVs and CMV combinations weighing over 10,000 pounds, and is effective on February 5, 2003. The docket number for the final rule is FHWA-1999-6266.
OSHA Publications
OSHA Slide Presentations and Handouts

*Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.

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