Behind the Wheel at Work

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Behind the Wheel at Work is a quarterly eNewsletter bringing you the latest news from the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety.

Volume 6 Number 3 November 2021

Pedestrian Struck-by-vehicle Incidents

What is a pedestrian struck-by-vehicle incident? How can employers keep pedestrian workers safe? What are the most common scenarios involving pedestrian struck-by-vehicle incidents in specific industries? Continue reading for answers to these questions and others.

Update on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Response

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The Facts

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Photo by ©olsaer / Getty Images

What is a pedestrian struck-by-vehicle incident?

A pedestrian struck-by-vehicle incident occurs when a worker on foot is struck by a vehicle or other mobile equipment in normal operation.

These incidents can take place on or off a road open to traffic—when a worker is crossing a city street, working in a construction work zone, or at a parking lot, farm, loading area, or mining site.

Pedestrian workers fit into a few different groups:

  • Some spend much of their workday on foot near vehicle traffic (crossing guards, road construction workers).
  • Others are outside their vehicles for shorter periods but may have to work next to high-speed traffic (law enforcement officers, firefighters, tow truck drivers).
  • Some are on foot at off-road worksites working alongside vehicles and equipment (truck drivers, refuse collection workers, agricultural workers, building construction workers).

What do we know about pedestrian struck-by-vehicle incidents?

From 2014 through 2018:[1]

  • 1,587 pedestrian workers in the U.S. died in struck-by-vehicle incidents—on average, 317 deaths per year (about 18% of all motor vehicle deaths at work).
  • These deaths most often occurred off-road in areas such as construction sites, factories, public buildings, or farms (599; 38%), followed by on roads (378;24%), on the side of the road (273; 17%), and in construction work zones (269; 17%).
  • 1 of every 5 workers killed in a struck-by incident (342) was a heavy or tractor-trailer truck driver.
  • Other occupations with high numbers of struck-by-vehicle deaths from 2014-2018 were: construction laborers (122); landscaping and groundskeeping workers (59); highway maintenance workers (58); first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers (53); crossing guards (51); laborers and freight, stock, and material movers and handlers (48); refuse and recyclable material collectors (46); and police and sheriff’s patrol officers (38).

[1] Bureau of Labor Statistics [2021]. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2014-2018external icon. Create customized tables.

How to Stay Safe and Keep Others Safe

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Photo by ©Petro Bevz / Getty Images

If you’re an employer, you can inform all workers how to stay safe as pedestrians, and you can inform those who drive for work how to avoid striking a pedestrian.

Prevent Struck-by Incidents at Crash Scenes

FACE LEO Struck By Incidents Infographic

More than 200 law enforcement officers died due to struck-by incidents from 2005-2019 (24% of motor vehicle-related officer deaths). NIOSH published an infographicpdf icon outlining four ways that law enforcement officers can lower their risk of being struck by a passing vehicle while outside the patrol vehicle. Graphics are also available to promote this message.

Q&A with Safety Experts

Carl Heinlein

Carl Heinlein
Sr. Safety Consultant, American Contractors Insurance Group

Heinlein joined American Contractors Insurance Group in 2002, where he contributes to the successful safety initiatives, including active jobsite involvement and leadership training, for multiple construction clients representing both union and open-shop contractors. These contractors combine to represent over 45,000 direct-hire employees and approximately 1% of the entire construction performed in the United States each year.

Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan
Director of Training, Emergency Responder Safety Institute (ERSI)

Sullivan is a subject matter expert on roadway incident operations and emergency personnel safety and promotes proactive strategies and tactics for protecting emergency workers from being struck by vehicles. He was a volunteer firefighter and chief officer for 23 years and recently retired from a 40-year career as a safety and risk management consultant for the public and private sector. He teaches Roadway Incident Safety & Survival Workshops for emergency responders for ERSI and is a Master Instructor for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2) Traffic Incident Management Train-the-Trainer program.

More Information
Page last reviewed: November 12, 2021