Last year, roughly 4,679 people died in the United States due to work injuries, with 725 of those people being truck drivers. The number of fatal work related injuries in the trucking occupation hit the highest total, more than other occupations, since 2008.
These numbers are preliminary. They come from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), which is conducted every year by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The numbers will not be finalized until after the spring of 2016.
Putting these figures into context, “driver/sales workers” were also included in the “truck driver” category, adding 100 deaths in 2014 to the category. The injury rate for driver/sales workers and truck drivers was 23.4 per 100,000 full time-equivalent workers. That’s still more than seven times the national overall rate of 3.3, but it’s nowhere near the top of the list. The top rates belong to the fishing industry, with 80.8 deaths per 100,000, and logging, with a whopping 109.5 fatal injury rate.
Driving a heavy-duty and tractor-trailer vehicle can be dangerous. In proportion to other occupations, the fatal work related injury is slim in the very large transportation industry. Nonetheless, minor safety improvements could drastically save many lives.
A ten percent reduction in mortality among fishers would save two people. That’s important. But the same ten percent reduction for heavy-duty truck drivers saves more than 70 lives. And that’s not counting non-professional drivers who might otherwise be caught up in collisions with trucks.
Significant reductions in trucker mortality are certainly possible, since a lot of fatal injuries occur as a result of speeding, distracted drivers, or fatigued driving behavior—things we already know drivers should not be doing. The problem is that many carriers still unintentionally incentivize speeding and over-work by paying drivers strictly by the mile. Going faster and driving longer both pack more miles and hence more money, into one day.
With GPS tracking software, it’s possible to reward drivers for their attention and safe driving skills instead.
Teletrac’s Safety Analytics feature makes it possible to not only see where each driver is, but to identify which driver most often engages in unsafe behaviors such as speeding or erratic driving. Managers can see which drivers need extra training or even disciplinary action. And which drivers deserve rewards for their safe driving skills. The drivers who practice safe driving can then get a higher per-mile rate.
With the right GPS tracking software, the number of fatal work related injuries in trucking can potentially be lowered so that carriers can improve safety across their entire fleet.