Commercial truck drivers must often navigate their vehicles through adverse weather as well as unfavorable traffic conditions.
Per an article in Truck Driving Jobs, (1) the highest percentage of commercial truck accidents occurs in the summer. That’s because there are more vehicles on the road during this time, as school ends and families drive to vacation spots throughout the country.
But in addition to the increased number of vehicles, there is another source of danger for commercial truck drivers, and that is simply that the nature of the job often leads to fatigue.
Truck drivers spend at least 10 hours per day behind the wheel, and that is only if they actually comply with the hours-of-service (HOS) rules that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandates.
Some drivers compound the issue of fatigue by falsely documenting that they were taking a break or sleeping, when in fact they were on the road, trying to ensure timely delivery.
Fatigue is one of the biggest hazards of working as a commercial truck driver, because of the high risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. Exhaustion also causes a loss of reaction time, focus and concentration, so even if a tired truck driver doesn’t close his eyes while driving, he still presents a danger to other vehicles.
Recent studies have found that commercial truck drivers are more likely to suffer non-fatal injuries on the job than workers in any other occupation. In fact, one study found that truck drivers had a 233 percent higher chance of suffering a non-fatal injury than workers in all other industries.
These factors lead to a higher-than-average rate of on-the-job death among commercial truck drivers.
Per Trucks.com, (2) 745 truck drivers were killed in 2015, which though a slight improvement from 2014’s number of 761, is still too high relative to the number of drivers on the road.
To put it into perspective, the 745 truck driver fatalities was 25 percent of all “work-related fatalities last year , more than any other U.S. job, according to an annual workplace fatality report…”
In fact, the number of truck driver deaths increased 11.2 percent from 2011-2015, in large part because high demand has meant more trucks on the road.
And one hidden aspect of danger for truck drivers is that because they are paid per-mile, rather than per hour, there is significant pressure for them to make timely deliveries, especially given the high rate of delays caused by stalled traffic and loading dock issues.
That pressure often means that some commercial truck drivers take more risks, such as driving while fatigued and speeding, two of the biggest contributing factors in fatal truck wrecks.
Some factors that make truck driving one of the deadliest jobs, such as traffic conditions and weather, are out of a driver’s control. But practicing safe habits such as observing the speed limit, avoiding distractions and getting the mandated amount of rest can go a long way toward making truck driving a safer profession.