Truck Driver Work-Related Fatalities at Six-Year High

September 22, 2015

By David Cullen

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Chart: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Chart: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Fatal work-related injuries to commercial truck drivers last year reached their highest level in six years, per a summary of preliminary results from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2014 just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BLS said that “transportation and material moving occupations” accounted for the largest share (28%) of fatal occupational injuries of any group of workers last year.

Fatal work injuries in this group climbed 3 percent to 1,289 incidents in 2014, marking the highest total since 2008 (see BLS chart above).

Heavy-truck and tractor-trailer drivers incurred their highest total since 2008-- with 725 fatalities recorded in 2014. 

Truck drivers and drivers/sales workers accounted for nearly two out of every three fatal injuries in the overall group (835 of the 1,289 fatal injuries in 2014). Fatal injuries to drivers/sales workers jumped 74 percent to 54 in 2014. 

Breaking down the data by incident type, BLS found that in 2014, fatal work injuries related to transportation were up slightly higher, from 1,865 in 2013 to 1,891. Overall, transportation incidents accounted for 40 percent of fatal workplace injuries in 2014.

Within the “transportation event,” category, BLS said that roadway incidents made up 57 percent of 2014’s fatal work injury total.

The second largest number of transportation fatalities in 2014 involved pedestrian-vehicular incidents, accounting for 17 percent. Fatalities resulting from pedestrian vehicular incidents were up 6 percent. 

However, the agency noted that the roadway incident counts are expected to rise once updated 2014 data are released in the late spring of 2016.

The report also noted that among contracted workers who were employed outside of construction and oil-and-gas extraction occupations, the largest number of fatal occupational injuries was incurred by heavy-truck and tractor-trailer drivers (76 workers).

As for the overall national numbers, BLS recorded a preliminary total of 4,679 fatal work injuries last year. That equates to an increase of 2% over the revised count of 4,585 fatal work injuries the agency reported for 2013.

For detailed information on fatal injuries, refer to the tables in the 2014 data section at



  1. 1. Vagabond [ September 23, 2015 @ 04:28AM ]

    This is what happens when you race against the clock. Its just going to get worse.

  2. 2. Kenny [ September 23, 2015 @ 04:58AM ]

    Yes sir it is a big race out there. I see UPS clear down to the cheap carriers running at speeds that are ridiculous to their skill level. This President's mangers of the Fmcsa are a not very good at what the do across the board. Time to clean house so watch how you vote. Keep your life insurance paid up because a good driver knows how dangerous it is out here now because of the Fmcsa and true figures don't lie.

  3. 3. Scott Coyle [ September 23, 2015 @ 06:00AM ]

    They won't blame it on the elogs, they'll blame it on the reinstituted 34 hour restart rule I have to run elogs so I'm racin the driving clock the on duty clock and the 8 hr break clock every night There's no choice in the matter You go over your in violation

  4. 4. Bruce [ September 23, 2015 @ 07:02AM ]

    I told a DOT auditor the same thing this year it is only going to get worse when a driver can't take a break when he gets tired. Someone with a degree that probally never been around a truck makes up these laws that look good on spreadsheets.

  5. 5. Dean Pearson [ September 23, 2015 @ 08:12AM ]

    It is always interesting when this much data is interpreted in a few short paragraphs. The challenges for a professional driver continue to increase with each mandate about how and when they must operate. Noncommercial vehicles are involved and disproportionally have responsibility in these fatalities. The number of distracted drivers continues to increase exponentially making the roads dangerous for everyone. The government must increase the focus on roadway safety as it pertains to noncommercial distracted driving. I believe every driver experiences the same conditions as I do daily, and I am challenged each day on my way to and from work with the number of motorist not paying attention. There are no less than 50% of drivers of noncommercial vehicles engaged with their smartphones or some other distraction everywhere I drive. With that said, imagine the typical 10 hour day of a professional driver and how many of these “crashes waiting to happen” they encounter and moreover, are avoided by the professional driver recognizing the hazard. Instead of solely focusing on the Commercial transportation side of these fatalities; why not comment on the number of automobile deaths as a counter point? I am certainly not saying there are not bad trucking companies or careless drivers, however, there are trucking companies with safety driven cultures and nothing is more important to us than returning our associates and their loved ones home. Let us be fair with our observations and statistics and put safer laws in effect to protect everyone. There are distracted drivers, so it is imperative to put the necessary resources towards enforcement of the behaviors which lead to these fatalities.

  6. 6. John McNeilly [ September 23, 2015 @ 08:35AM ]

    Hmmm...could it be that that the results of recent changes in the HOS are showing up now? That perhaps this is the consequence of ramming regulations through without the prerequisite study?

  7. 7. Dean Pearson [ September 23, 2015 @ 09:02AM ]

    Mr McNeilly,

    I was not going to comment on HOS, but you make a great point. For those not aware of the dates as they pertain to HOS and this article; here you go. The data being discussed is for 2014. The effective date and compliance date for the HOS rules were 2/27/2012 and 7/1/2013 respectfully.. The suspension of the 34 hour rule occured on 12/16/2014 which would statiscally eliminate this from being a factor in the 2014 data.

    Double Hmmmm. to not completing the study prior to passing laws.

  8. 8. Bruce Koepke [ September 24, 2015 @ 07:52PM ]

    This reflects the number of drivers on the road, following the recession.
    Sales are at an all-time high. The trend over 35 years has been on a downward slope when you look at deaths per100/ million miles or per registered vehicles.

  9. 9. Farrel Krall [ September 26, 2015 @ 06:19PM ]

    The number of truck occupant fatalities in the 35-year downward slope referenced by Mr.Koepke are as follows. There were over 1400 fatalities in the peak year of 1979 in comparison to the 725 in 2014. During this time frame there has been a significant increase in vehicle miles traveled (VMT), # of fleets, and # of trucks on the highway.

    NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2004 reported that the combined fatality rate of 2.15 and injury rate of 38.00 involvements (total of 40.15) per 100 million vehicle miles traveled (VMT) was the lowest in recorded history…the 2004 combined rate of 40.15 was 22 percent lower than for year 2000.

    Research report entitled “Four Decades of Truck Safety Progress” provides a detailed analysis of advancements made in heavy truck safety throughout the last four decades. This paper was published by the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section of the American Bar Association in 2006

    Numerous additional safety publications are available for downloading from . Unfortunately the exuberant safety progress achieved by the trucking industry at large appears to be one of the nation’s best-kept secrets.


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