Trucking one of the deadliest occupations, new government data reveals

December 21, 2023

Tyson Fisher


Jobs within the transportation sector are among the deadliest, according to new data from the federal government.

On Tuesday, Dec. 19, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released its National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2022 report. Among all civilian occupations, heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers experienced the most fatalities.

According to the data, 934 drivers of heavy trucks were killed on the job last year, up from 874 in 2021. The vast majority of those fatalities (747) were transportation incidents, followed by exposure to harmful substances/environments (56), violence/other injuries caused by persons/animals (29) and falls/slips/trips (27). By comparison, the job with the second-most fatalities, construction laborers, experienced 320 job-related deaths.

More broadly, workers in the transportation and material moving sector experienced 1,620 fatal work injuries, the highest among all occupational groups, up from 1,523 in 2021. Fatalities to driver/sales workers and truck drivers increased by 8%. Construction and extraction workers had the second-highest number of fatalities, at 1,056.

transportation drivers fatalities

Transportation incidents affect more than just driving occupations. Looking at all occupations, transportation incidents are the most frequent type of fatal event, accounting for nearly 40% of all occupational fatalities.

Although the majority of those incidents involved transport jobs, other sectors impacted include construction/extraction and protective service occupations.

Occupational fatalities caused by transportation incidents dropped in 2020, likely the result of the pandemic. Since then, those fatalities have been climbing as more workers return to the workplace. However, transportation-related occupational deaths are still below pre-pandemic levels recorded in 2019 by nearly 3%.

An increase in occupational fatalities among truckers reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics is consistent with fatal crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Overall, traffic deaths went down in 2022 compared to the previous year. However, fatal crashes that involved a large truck went up 2%.

Accounting for all occupations, there were 5,476 fatal work injuries last year, a nearly 6% increase from 2021. A worker died every 96 minutes from a work-related injury in 2022, compared to every 101 minutes in 2021.

Fatalities due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals increased by nearly 12% percent, to 849, in 2022. Homicides accounted for nearly 62% percent of these fatalities and are up 9% from the previous year. Unintentional overdoses increased 13% to a record high of 525 fatalities, continuing a trend of annual increases since 2012. LL