An annual report from the U.S Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics has revealed driving a truck is the deadliest job in America, with truck accidents accounting for more than 25 per cent of workplace fatalities.
745 truckers were killed last year, and data shows an increase of 11.2 per cent rise in deaths over the past five years.
It is believed the increased dependence on transporting goods and a higher demand for rapid deliveries driven by online shopping has contributed to increases in accident rates.
The American truck industry also has an annual turnover of around 100 per cent, putting inexperienced drivers on the road according to Michael Belzer, a transportation economist and associate professor at Wayne State University.
“People come into the industry and drop out, causing a perpetual experience problem” that’s reflected in fatality rates,” Belzer said.
Meanwhile, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association blames a lack of standards from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration for allowing dangerous trucks to be on the road for adding to the toll.
The lack of standards for crashworthiness of heavy-duty trucks plays a role in fatality rates, said Norita Taylor, director of marketing and public relations for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents 157,000 drivers.
“They aren’t even required to have air bags,” said Norita Taylor, director of marketing and public relations for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
But that doesn’t mean the trucking industry isn’t addressing safety issues.
Industry body the American Trucking Association claims the number of fatal accidents involving trucks has in fact dropped by 74 per cent, and two-thirds of them are caused by other vehicles.
“As our roads become busier, it is incumbent on all drivers to do their part to improve safety,” said Sean McNally, ATA’s vice president of public affairs.
“One of the primary risks to truck driver safety, unfortunately, is the behaviour of other drivers.
“The best way we can make our workplace, the open road safer is to make driving safer for everyone, and the best way we can do that is through education like ATA’s Share the Road Program and enforcement of traffic laws aimed at reducing dangerous behaviours,” McNally added.