On the job deaths involving heavy-duty truck drivers or semi-truck drivers hit a record hit a record high in 2017. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 840 truckers died, which is up from 786 in 2016 and part of an overall 25 percent rise since 2011. This ominous news is only furthered by the fact that the trucking industry has an average of 26.8 deaths per 10,000 workers, as opposed to overall average across all professions of 3.5 deaths per 10,000 workers.
Driver error is the cause
Much like drivers operating other vehicles, truckers are suspected to engage in the same kinds of risky behavior. The main causes are:
- Distracted driving – just as common among truckers as regular drivers with many of the same distractions like devices and onboard technology.
- Excessive speed – these vehicles are particularly dangerous when not under control
- Not using a seatbelt – 40 percent of drivers who died did not use their safety belt
- Driving under the influence – there is at least a 25 percent increase in non-prescription drug overdose deaths and alcohol-related deaths among drivers
Employers are partially responsible
While it is believed that distracted driving is an individual behavior, industry experts are quick to point out that employers need to work harder to ensure safe driving.This includes:
- Managing the production so safety is not compromised
- Leaving drivers alone when they are driving
- Creating a core value of safety
- Strict enforcement of values and safety protocols
- Installing new safety equipment such as lane-departure warnings, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency brakes on new trucks
Truckers are not the only victims
The unfortunate reality is that while these truckers are dying, many more victims are also killed or seriously injured due to the negligence on the part of the truckers. These large vehicles often cause considerable damage to others with little more than a scratch to themselves. The families of truckers and their victims are best served by seeking out legal guidance. An experienced personal injury attorney can help secure damages for loss of income to the injured and deceased, medical expenses and even damage to property.