Truck drivers continue to be on demand and in many cases are still well-compensated across the US. However, their field of work is also associated with some serious safety risks and is even listed by the Department of Labor among the most deadly vocations in the country. Here’s a look at some of the things that make truck driving dangerous.
Statistically, Truck Driving Remains Fatal
In 2012, truck drivers had a 22.1 fatality rate, which ranked 8th during that year. Meanwhile, in 2016, a total of 745 drivers were killed on the road. From 2011-2016, truck driver fatalities have risen by as much as 11.2 percent. According to industry experts, the increased dependency on trucking to transport goods, including the heightened need for fast delivery created by the rise of internet shopping, is forcing more trucks to hit the road, which as data suggest also contributes to the alarming rise of road accidents involving trucks.
There’s an array of factors that can constitute driver fatigue, and these include inconsistent sleep schedules and inability to rest effectively in public places due to distractions. Truck driving is a fairly exhausting profession, which is why fatigue issues are almost inevitable in this industry. However, there are opportunities for state governments to partner with contractors and alleviate a few concerns for the sake of drivers. The current drive and rest regulations do not seem to fully accommodate the necessary amount of rest for drivers, though minor tweaks can be done to improve existing policies and guidelines. Additionally, companies and agencies can also look at other ways of reducing fatigue such as adding more rest areas and truck stops for commercial drivers.
Some Drivers Don’t Get Complete Training Before Hitting the Road
Truck driving safety is not just about the ability of the person behind the wheel to drive. After all, road conditions and other external factors can be just as pivotal as the trucker’s ability to maneuver his vehicle. Truck drivers must be aptly trained on how to deal with different terrains, as well as how to proceed with caution during road traffic and varying weather conditions. Furthermore, contractors must also be aware of any additional industry- or state-specific training required for employees, like the 10 and 30 hour courses from OSHA, which are critical in spreading awareness and improving hazard recognition among professionals in general industries.
Non-fatal, but Debilitating Injuries
Truck drivers suffer more non-fatal injuries than workers in any other industry. In fact, a government study pointed out that truck drivers astonishingly have a 233 percent more chance to receive a non-fatal injury while at work.
The majority of those injuries are identified as back injuries that come as a result of heavy lifting following extended hours of sitting and driving. The truckers who unload their own trucks are the ones most likely to fall victims to these conditions. Meanwhile, fatigued drivers who also need to help unload a truck in an unfamiliar place, while also working with strangers can become susceptible to the risk of contracting other minor incidents and injuries.
Driving a truck can be rewarding and fun for many hardworking professionals out there. However, with all the safety risks that plague the industry, both the drivers and employers must begin to strongly look at more options and training opportunities in order to lessen the threat of getting hurt on the job.