Trucker occupational deaths in 2017 reach record levels

February 2019

Tyson Fisher

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Truck driving consistently ranks in top 10 lists of most dangerous jobs in America. Recently released occupational deaths data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics supports that. In 2017, more truckers died on the job than any other year since records began in 2003.

On Dec. 18, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, updated to include numbers from 2017. According to BLS, 5,147 fatal work injuries occurred in 2017, down slightly from 5,190 in 2016.

Of all the occupational deaths, more than 16 percent were truck drivers. In 2017, 840 truckers were killed on the job, the most in a single year since BLS began collecting occupational fatality stats in 2003. Accounting for all driver/sales workers and truck drivers, nearly 1,000 deaths occurred, a rate of 26.8 fatal injuries per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.

The stats reflected in BLS’ report include raw numbers of deaths of all types while on the job and do not indicate fault or events leading up to the fatal injury.

Transportation, in general, was responsible for the lion’s share of occupational deaths. More than 2,000 of the occupational fatalities were attributed to “transportation incidents,” accounting for more than 40 percent of all deaths on the job. In a distant second was death related to falls, slips and trips at 887 deaths, or approximately 17 percent of all occupational fatal injuries.

Although truckers accounted for more deaths than most occupations, they only ranked seventh when adjusted for the number of workers in that occupation. Fishers and related fishing workers had the highest fatal work injury rate, nearly 100 deaths per 100,000 workers, followed by loggers at 84.3 deaths per 100,000. Among selected occupations, computer/mathematical workers had the lowest rate at 0.2 fatal injuries. For all workers, the fatal injury rate decreased slightly to 3.5 per 100,000 workers.

Fatality rates varied across different demographics. Per 100,000 workers, 5.7 men were killed while on the job compared to the significantly lower 0.6 rate among women. Accounting for age, workers 65 years old and over had the highest fatal injury rate at 10.3 deaths per 100,000 workers. LL

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.