Trucking among most fatal occupations, according to federal report

December 20, 2019

Tyson Fisher


Among all occupations in the U.S., driving a truck is one of the most dangerous, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisitics’ fatal occupational injuries report.

On Tuesday, Dec. 17, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released official numbers of occupational fatalities for 2018. Broadly speaking, driver/sales workers and truck drivers had the most fatalities compared with other groups with 966 deaths.

When narrowing down to more detailed occupations, heavy and tractor-trailer truck driver had the most fatalities at 831, according to the report.

Accounting for all occupations, transportation incidents were the most common event leading to an occupational death. With a 1% increase to 2,080 deaths, transportation-related incidents account for 40% of the 5,250 total work-related fatalities. Other fatal events include:

  • Violence and other injuries by persons/animals up 2.5% to 828 deaths.
  • Fall/slip/trip down 11% to 791 deaths.
  • Contact with objects and equipment up 12% to 786 deaths.
  • Exposure to harmful substances or environments up 17% to 621 deaths.
  • Fire or explosion up 6.5% to 115 deaths.

Among transportation occupation incidents, the most common type was a roadway incident involving a motor vehicle (1,276 fatalities). Within that category, the most fatalities (677) derived from a roadway collision with another vehicle. Narrowed down even further, a collision with a vehicle driving into oncoming traffic was the most common (243 deaths).

The increase in deaths due to violence was largely the result of an 11% increase in work-related suicides. Also noteworthy, unintentional overdoses while at work increased by 12% to 305, the sixth consecutive annual increase in that category.

Proportional to the number of employees, several occupations are more deadly than driving a truck. Per 100,000 full-time employees, the national average rate is 3.5 fatalities. However, the fatality for loggers is 97.6, followed by fishing workers (77.4), aircraft pilots/engineers (58.9) and roofers (51.5). The rate for truckers is 26.

When separating independent workers from employees, truck drivers still rank the highest. Heavy and tractor trailer-truck drivers had the most deaths among independent workers (96), followed by first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers (61) and construction laborers (48).