America’s Most Dangerous Job: Truck Driving

According to a recent report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, driving large commercial trucks is one of the deadliest occupations in the nation — from a numbers standpoint. In 2015, 745 drivers were killed on the job. The profession accounts for more work-related fatalities than any other job.

Another troubling trend is that truck driver deaths have risen 11.2 percent over the last five years. Many in the industry believe that the rise of online shopping and fast shipping is putting more drivers and higher crash rates on the road.

The way drivers are compensated also helps push this dangerous trend: Drivers earn more money for driving more hours. This often presents a conflict for drivers — rest more or drive more? Driver fatigue is the leading cause of accidents involving 18-wheelers and other commercial trucks.

In addition, their long hours, relatively low pay, and rough working conditions create a lot of job turnover, which is right around 100 percent annually for the industry. With such a high turnover rate, many of the drivers on the road are inexperienced. On average, truck drivers take 22 days off from work every year due to job-related injuries or illness. This is the largest number of any occupation in the United States.

However, there is some good news. The number of fatal crashes involving large trucks has fallen 32 percent since 1980. Additionally, the accident occurrence rate for every 100 million miles driven has dropped 74 percent in the same period. This is most likely because of an increase in safety technology and training methods in the trucking industry.