crashes are the leading cause of occupational
fatalities in the U.S.
1992 and 2001, 13,337 civilian workers died in roadway
crashes, an average of 4 deaths each day. Roadway crashes led all
other causes, making up 22% of workplace deaths, compared with 13%
from homicide and 10% from falls (Bureau of Labor Statistics,
Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries).
In 2000, lost wages and benefits for crash victims
(occupational and non-occupational) were $61 billion. Costs to employers
due to the loss or absence of an employee from work accounted for
$4.6 billion more (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).
For employers and victims, a workplace crash can have far-reaching
financial, medical, and legal consequences.
Photo by NIOSH FACE Program |
is at risk? – Anyone who operates a motor
vehicle as part of his or her job is at risk of being involved in
a roadway crash.
In 2001, nearly 4.2 million U.S. workers were motor
vehicle operators; 73% were truck drivers. Roadway crashes are by
far the leading cause of death for transport workers. Millions of
other workers who are not full-time professional drivers operate
company or personal vehicles for deliveries, sales and repair calls,
client visits, and many other tasks. Roadway crashes are also the
leading cause of death for workers in clerical and professional
specialty jobs, and the second leading cause for executives, sales
workers, and technicians. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current
Population Survey and Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries)
of other motorists may cause work-related crashes
a non-emergency medical transport, a 26-year-old emergency medical
technician (EMT) died when the ambulance she was in was struck head-on
by a pickup truck traveling in excess of 70 miles per hour in the
wrong lane of a two-lane roadway. Attending a patient, the EMT was
unrestrained when the incident occurred. The EMT struck the front
bulkhead and died of head and chest injuries en route to the hospital.
What can employers do?
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.
Employers can take steps to protect their employees and their companies:
- Assign a key member of the management team responsibility and authority
to set and enforce comprehensive driver safety policy.
- Enforce mandatory seat belt use.
- Do not require workers to drive irregular hours or far beyond their
normal working hours.
- Do not require workers to conduct business on a cell phone while driving.
- Develop work schedules that allow employees to obey speed limits and
to follow applicable hours-of-service regulations.
- Adopt a structured vehicle maintenance program.
- Provide company vehicles that offer the highest possible levels of
- Teach workers strategies for recognizing and managing driver fatigue
and in-vehicle distractions.
- Provide training to workers operating specialized motor vehicles or
- Emphasize to workers the need to follow safe driving practices on
and off the job.
- Ensure that workers assigned to drive on the job have a valid driver’s
license and one that is appropriate for the type of vehicle to be driven.
- Check driving records of prospective employees, and perform periodic
rechecks after hiring.
- Maintain complete and accurate records of workers’ driving performance.
Work-related roadway crashes,
Types of vehicles occupied by victims:
- Semi-trucks (28%)
- Automobiles (24%)
- Pickup trucks (12%)
Event and worker characteristics:
- 49% were collisions between vehicles
- 53% occurred between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- 38% occurred on U.S. or State-designated highways
- 89% of fatally injured workers were male
- Risk of fatality increased at age 55 and older
Industries in which victims were employed:
- Transportation (33%)
- Services (14%)
- Construction (11%)
driving and lack of employer enforcement of safety policies may
contribute to fatal work-related crashes
A 45-year-old salesperson was killed
in a motor-vehicle incident while traveling to meet with clients.
The victim had worked for the company for six years and was reimbursed
for mileage and other costs associated with the use of his personal
vehicle for work-related driving. Traveling in excess of 90 miles
per hour along an interstate highway, he lost control of his car
and was ejected when the vehicle became airborne and rolled two
and a half times. The victim, who was not wearing a seatbelt,
died at the scene. In the previous 14 months, he had been involved
in another motor-vehicle incident and had committed three other
Roadway safety information
Crashes provides detailed statistics on workplace crashes; a review
of safety regulations that affect workplace driving; information
on special topics such as driver fatigue, cell phone use, and age
factors; and recommendations for prevention of work-related crashes.
To receive copies of the NIOSH Hazard Review, copies
of this Fact Sheet, or additional information, please visit the
NIOSH Web site at www.cdc.gov/niosh
or contact us by phone at:
to Work-related Roadway Safety Information*
Federal Highway Administration:
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration:
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations:
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards:
Network of Employers for Traffic Safety:
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety:
*Mention of any company
or product does not constitute endorsement by NIOSH. In addition, citations
to Web sites do not constitute NIOSH endorsement of the sponsoring organizations
or their programs or products. Furthermore, NIOSH is not responsible for
the content of these Web sites.
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