Truck driver workplace fatalities hit record high in 2017

Truck driver occupational fatalities rose in 2017 to the highest number since at least 2003, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BLS says the 840 truck drivers killed on the job in 2017 represented 77 percent of the 1,084 motor vehicle operators killed on the job last year — the most since it began tracking occupational statistics in 2003. There were 786 truckers killed on the job in 2016.

In total, there were 1,443 fatal injuries in the transportation and material moving occupations in 2017, a nearly 4 percent increase over the 1,388 fatalities in 2016, according to BLS.

BLS’ numbers are in line with those released in October by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA’s numbers showed there were 841 occupants of large trucks killed in crashes in 2017.

Across all occupations in the U.S., there were 5,147 workplace fatalities in 2017, down slightly from the 5,190 reported in 2016.

Other occupations with high fatalities in 2017 were:

Construction – 965 fatalities
Installation, maintenance and repair occupations – 414 fatalities
Management occupations – 396 fatalities
Building and grounds cleaning and maintenance occupations – 326 fatalities.

According to the new report, the number of truck drivers who were killed on the job rose from 786 in 2016 to 840 in 2018. This marks a 6.6% increase and is the highest number of truck driver fatalities in a single year on record.



The total number of 2017 fatalities in the Department of Labor’s “Driver/sales workers and truck drivers” category was 987.


These findings pointing towards a frightening uptick in truck driver fatalities are backed up by data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which found that deaths caused by large truck crashes reached their highest levels in 29 years in 2017.

Additionally, deaths for all U.S. workers caused by transportation incidents increased from 2077 in 2016 to 2083 in 2017.

Transportation Deaths

The Department of Labor report did not provide any clues as to why truck driver workplace fatalities are on the rise.

Overall, workplace fatalities dipped slightly from 2016 through 2017 for U.S. workers in all occupations.

Adding side-guard rails to semi-trailer trucks could save hundreds of lives

We have seen some terrible semi-truck crashes and now there is a push to add side guard rails to those trailers to save lives.

Two years ago in Maryland along Route 22 in Prince George’s County, a vehicle trapped underneath a semi-truck trailer. Firefighters had to rescue the driver.

This past October in Urbana, Maryland along I-270 a driver was killed after their car crashes into the rear end of a tractor-trailer on in Frederick County.

Both accidents involved a semi-truck trailer. The federal government currently requires all semi-trailers to have rear underride guards that are designed to prevent a car from going under a trailer in a crash. It doesn’t require trailers to have side guard rails.

David Zuby, the Chief Research Officer with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says “Several hundred people a year die from underside crashes with trucks.”

Zuby believes many of these side underride crashes can be prevented.

“What our research has shown is, it’s possible by fitting trucks with stronger guards, adds Zuby.”

IIHS tested two aftermarket side guards. One called AngelWing and the other is a fiberglass side skirt intended to improve aerodynamics but not to prevent underride crashes.

The AngelWing bent but didn’t allow the car to go underneath.

“They are strong enough to prevent the vehicle from going under the trailer,” says Zuby.

The fiberglass side skirt didn’t stop the car from going under the trailer.

Test results show only 28 percent of a 53-foot trailer’s length would be protected from side underride crashes with no guards but if you add side guards a driver’s protection increases to 62 percent.

Right now Congress is considering making side guard rails mandatory. The Stop Underrides Act of 2017 would require underride guard rails to be placed on the sides of trailers and on the front of trucks.

12 die on Montana highways during Thanksgiving week


Authorities say 12 people died in eight separate crashes on Montana highways over a five-day stretch during Thanksgiving week.

The Missoulian reports the holiday fatalities that were counted beginning Wednesday raised the state’s total to 161 this year, fewer than last year’s 173 recorded through the same period.

The 2017 year-end total of 186 deaths was the fewest since 1989.

Montana Highway Patrol says two people were killed after a train struck their pickup east of Wolf Point, marking the start of the carnage Wednesday.

A North Dakota couple and their two young daughters were all killed after their car veered off a roadway east of Billings on Thanksgiving Day.

The deadly stretch was capped Sunday when a 14-year-old Ronan girl died after a crash that injured four other children.