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Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities
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Fact Sheet | Truck Drivers 2018 | July 2020


Truck Drivers, 2018

Highlights

  • There was an upward trend in fatal occupational injuries to truck drivers during the 10-year period from 2009-18, with a high of 927 in 2017.
  • Transportation incidents and contact with objects and equipment were the two leading events resulting in fatal occupational injuries to truck drivers in 2018.
  • Multiple traumatic injuries and disorders was the most common nature of fatal occupational injuries to truck drivers in 2018.
  • The incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work was 262.1 cases per 10,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers among heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and 233.0 cases per 10,000 FTE workers among light truck or delivery services drivers in 2018. The rate was 98.4 cases among all occupations.1

Background:

In May 2018, there were an estimated 2,715,640 truck drivers employed in the United States.2, 3, 4 The truck transportation industry employed 45 percent of all heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers.5 Couriers and messengers and retail trade industries each employed 22 percent of light truck or delivery services drivers.5 Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers transport goods from one location to another. Most tractor-trailer drivers are long-haul drivers and operate trucks with a total weight exceeding 26,000 pounds for the vehicle, passengers, and cargo. These drivers deliver goods over intercity routes that sometimes span several states.6 Light truck or delivery services drivers pick up, transport, and drop off packages and small shipments within a local region or urban area. They drive trucks having a total weight of 26,000 pounds or less for vehicle, passengers, and cargo. Delivery truck drivers usually transport merchandise from a distribution center to businesses and households.6

Overview:

There were 914 fatal occupational injuries to truck drivers in 2018, a slight decrease from 927 in 2017. The incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work was 262.1 cases per 10,000 FTE workers among heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and 233.0 cases among light truck or delivery services drivers in 2018. The rate was 98.4 cases among all occupations.


By race or ethnic origin, 547 truck drivers who suffered fatal occupational injuries in 2018 were white (non-Hispanic), 166 were Hispanic or Latino, 162 were black or African-American (non-Hispanic), 24 were Asian (non-Hispanic), 10 were other races or not reported (non-Hispanic), and five were American Indian or Alaska Native (non-Hispanic). Of the 914 truck drivers who suffered fatal occupational injuries in 2018, 886 were male. The 55-64 year old age group had the highest number (258) of fatal occupational injuries to truck drivers in 2018. The 45-54 year old age group had the second highest number (230) of fatal occupational injuries. Approximately 25.9 percent of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work occurred among truck drivers between the ages of 45 and 54. Another 25.7 percent occurred among truck drivers between the ages of 55 and 64.


Event or Exposure:

Transportation incidents was the most common event in 2018, leading to fatal occupational injuries among 716 truck drivers. Of these fatalities, 620 were from a roadway incident involving a motorized land vehicle, 70 were from a pedestrian vehicular incident, 15 were rail vehicle incidents, and 11 were nonroadway incidents involving a motorized land vehicle. The incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work for transportation incidents was 40.2 cases per 10,000 FTE workers among heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and 36.1 cases among light truck or delivery services drivers in 2018. The rate was 5.8 cases for all occupations.


Contact with objects and equipment was the second most common event in 2018, leading to fatal injuries among 72 truck drivers. The majority (61) of these fatal injuries were from being struck by an object or equipment, including 27 cases where the truck driver was struck by a rolling vehicle that was not in normal operation. Eight fatalities were from being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects and three were from being struck, caught, or crushed in collapsing structure, equipment, or material. Two other notable events or exposures that led to fatalities to truck drivers in 2018 were nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol – unintentional overdose and suicides. Nonmedical use of drugs or alcohol – unintentional overdose resulted in 47 fatalities while suicides resulted in 14 fatalities. The incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work for contact with objects and equipment was 42.7 cases per 10,000 FTE workers among heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and 31.3 cases among light truck or delivery services drivers in 2018. The rate was 23.3 cases for all occupations.

Nature of Injury:

The most common nature of fatal occupational injuries to truck drivers in 2018 was multiple traumatic injuries and disorders, resulting in 523 fatalities. Of these, 69 fatalities were intracranial injuries and injuries to internal organs and 54 fatalities were burns and other injuries, except fractures. The incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work for multiple traumatic injuries was 14.1 cases per 10,000 FTE workers among heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and 5.4 cases among light truck or delivery services drivers in 2018. The rate was 2.8 cases for all occupations.


The second most common nature of fatal occupational injuries to truck drivers in 2018 was other traumatic injuries and disorders, resulting in 210 fatalities. Of these, 95 fatalities were internal injuries to organs and blood vessels of the trunk. Strains, sprains, and tears was the nature with the highest incidence rate of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers (109.0 cases per 100 FTE workers). Light truck or delivery services drivers had an incidence rate of 106.2 cases for strains, sprains, and tears. The rate of strains, sprains, and tears was 34.0 for all occupations.


State of Incident:

Texas had the most (122) fatal occupational injuries among truck drivers of any state in 2018. California had the second most truck driver fatalities (66) and Florida had the third most (56). Twenty-three states had 15 or more fatal occupational injuries to truck drivers in 2018.


More Information:

You can obtain data from the Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities program by using the following tools: Create Customized Tables (Multiple Screens), Create Customized Tables (Single Screen), and the Online Profiles System. Additional tables and charts are on the IIF homepage and the IIF State page.

For technical information and definitions, please see the BLS Handbook of Methods for the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses (SOII) at https://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/soii/home.htm and for the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) at https://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/cfoi/home.htm.

Footnotes:

1. The scope of work fatalities from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries and that of nonfatal data from the Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses differs. See https://www.bls.gov/opub/hom/soii/concepts.htm#differences-in-coverage-between-soii-and-cfoi.

2. Truck drivers are codes 53-3032 (heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers) and 53-3033 (light truck or delivery services drivers) in the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) system located at https://www.bls.gov/soc/2018/soc_2018_manual.pdf.

3. See https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_stru.htm#53-0000 for more on this occupation.

4. See employment estimate from Occupational Employment Statistics at https://www.bls.gov/oes/2018/may/oes533032.htm for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and https://www.bls.gov/oes/2018/may/oes533033.htm for light truck or delivery services drivers.

5. See employment estimate from Occupational Outlook Handbook at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/heavy-and-tractor-trailer-truck-drivers.htm#tab-3 for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/delivery-truck-drivers-and-driver-sales-workers.htm#tab-3 for light truck or delivery services drivers.

6. See work description from Occupational Outlook Handbook at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/heavy-and-tractor-trailer-truck-drivers.htm#tab-2 for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/delivery-truck-drivers-and-driver-sales-workers.htm#tab-2 for light truck or delivery services drivers.

 

Last Modified Date: July 14, 2020