Burden, Need, and Impact

NIOSH strives to maximize its impact in occupational safety and health. The Center for Motor Vehicle Safety identifies priorities to guide investments, and bases those priorities on the evidence of burden, need, and impact. Below are the priority areas for the CMVS.

Burden: Millions of workers drive or ride in a motor vehicle as part of their jobs. Work-related motor vehicle crashes affect workers in all industries and occupations, whether they drive heavy trucks, emergency vehicles, pickup trucks, or cars, and whether driving is a primary or occasional part of the job. Work-related crashes take a heavy toll on workers, their families, and employers:

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the US, accounting for 35% of all deaths in 20211
  • 44% of the crash-related deaths in 2020 involved workers employed as motor vehicle operators, with the remaining 56% employed in a range of other occupations1
  • In 2019 alone, motor vehicle crashes at work cost U.S. employers $39 billion – $75,000 per nonfatal injury and $751,000 per death2
1Bureau of Labor Statistics [2023]. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2021. Create customized tables.
2NETS (Network of Employers for Traffic Safety) [2022]. Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes to Employers 2019. Vienna, VA: Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.

Need: NIOSH is the only part of the U.S. federal government whose mission includes preventing crashes and resulting injuries for all worker populations, not just a specific worker group. Our research and outreach focuses on truck drivers; workers in other high-risk jobs such as emergency responders, oil and gas workers, and taxi drivers; and drivers of light vehicles, for whom driving may not be the primary job duty. Our research emphasizes development and evaluation of safety interventions that are both effective and practical in preventing work-related motor vehicle crashes.

Impact: Through collaborations with partners across all sectors – industry, labor, professional and trade associations, non-profits, government agencies, and academia – NIOSH has a strong understanding of the individual, organizational, and environmental factors that contribute to work-related crashes. Our research is published in scientific journals and presented at scientific and industry conferences. To promote the adoption of our research results in the workplace, we contribute to consensus standards widely used by employers and industry to guide vehicle design and testing and motor vehicle safety management. We also communicate crash -prevention information directly to workers and employers through user-friendly web pages, social media (e.g., @NIOSH), animated images (GIFs), the eNewsletter Behind the Wheel at Work, and many other publications.