From distracted drivers and tight delivery schedules to dangerous road conditions, truckers have one of the riskiest jobs in the U.S. Despite efforts to improve driver safety, the number of truck-related injuries and deaths seems to be on the rise.
According to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 an American worker died from a job-related injury every 99 minutes. Of that number, nearly one in five worker fatalities were in the transportation industry.
2019 was the deadliest yet for truck drivers
The BLS reports that transportation incidents rose by 2% in 2019, with over 2,100 injuries and fatalities. That year there were over 1,000 fatal injuries among truckers and other commercial drivers: the highest number yet since the bureau started tracking the category in 2003. More than 80% of workers who died were drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailers.
Truckers face many types of risk
While more than 75% of trucker fatalities involved transportation accidents, drivers also face other types of danger. Of the 843 heavy truck driver fatalities in 2019:
- 7% involved contact with equipment or other objects
- 5% involved violence/other encounters with people or animals
- 4.5% involved environmental or harmful substance exposure
- 4% involved slips, trips and falls
- 1% involved fires and explosions
Long-haul truckers may also be susceptible to ergonomic injuries and other disorders due to sitting in one place for many hours at a time, including musculoskeletal issues, obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
Workers' compensation may be available
Whether caused by a sudden accident or a slowly developing disorder, truck drivers whose work leads to injury may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits, including payment for medical bills, lost wages and more.