MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY AT WORK

Crash Facts

car crash accident on the road with location pointer - car crash icon

Millions of workers drive or ride in a vehicle as part of their jobs, and motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the United States.1 All workers are at risk of crashes, whether they drive light or heavy vehicles, or whether driving is a main or incidental job duty. Work-related crashes include:

  • Single- or multiple-vehicle crashes, on or of public roadways, which occur on the job
  • Events in which a pedestrian worker (e.g., a law enforcement officer) is struck by a motor vehicle in operation, on or of a public roadway”
The Problem
Motor Vehicle Crash Icon

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S.1

The Lives
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From 2003-2018, more than 29,000 workers in the U.S. died in a work-related motor vehicle crash.1

The Costs
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In 2019 alone, work-related crashes cost employers $39 billion.2

  • $75,000 per nonfatal injury
  • $751,000 per death
Worker Groups

Motor vehicle crashes are the 1st or 2nd leading cause of death in every major industry group.1

In 2019, 1,270 U.S. workers driving or riding in a motor vehicle on a public road died in a work-related crash (24% of all work-related deaths).1

    • Among these 1,270 deaths, the Transportation and Warehousing industry had the highest share (41%), followed by Construction (12%), Wholesale and Retail Trade (9%), and Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services (7%).1

An additional 577 deaths in 2019 (11% of all work-related deaths) involved workers driving or riding in a motor vehicle off a public road, or pedestrians struck by motor vehicles.1

Work-related MVCs are not just an issue for truck, bus, or taxi drivers. 56% of workers who died in 2019 were not employed in motor vehicle operator jobs.1

Of the 341 pedestrian worker fatalities in 2019, 47% occurred in just a few occupations: heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers, construction occupations (trades workers and laborers), and police and sheriff’s patrol officers.1

More than 1 in 3 long-haul truck drivers have experienced a serious truck crash during their career.3

Crash deaths of occupants of large trucks (above 10,000 pounds) are increasing. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of deaths held steady at 650 to 700 deaths per year, but starting in 2016, at least 800 large-truck occupants died each year – 892 in 2019.4

The number of large trucks registered and large-truck miles driven are also increasing, as are overall large-truck crash rates based on miles driven.4

Texas had by far the highest number of large-truck occupant deaths in 2019 (146), followed by California (56), and Florida (52). These three states accounted for over 28% of all deaths.4

In 2019, 2% of large-truck drivers involved in fatal crashes had a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or more, compared to 20% of passenger-car drivers.4

Heavy- and tractor-trailer truck drivers have the highest numbers of pedestrian deaths of any occupation: 66 in 2019.1

49% of all EMS provider fatalities were related to motor vehicle crashes during the 2013-2018 period.5

89 firefighters died as a result of motor vehicle crashes between 2010-2019.6

498 law enforcement officers died due to vehicle crashes, 28% of all line-of-duty deaths from 2011-2020.7

Motor vehicle crashes cause over 50% of work-related deaths in the oil and gas extraction industry.4

Historically, the greatest numbers of oil & gas workers killed in crashes each year were in a pick-up truck. In 2018, pick-up trucks were involved in 29 worker fatalities while semi-trucks were involved in 13 worker fatalities.8

Sources
1Bureau of Labor Statistics [2021]. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2019external icon. Create customized tables.

NOTE: Most of the vehicles associated with workplace MVC fatalities are “motorized land vehicles,” (e.g., cars, trucks, buses, vans), defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as those “which are operated primarily on highways and other public roadways and used for transportation, hauling, delivering, and emergencies.” However, some fatalities, particularly those which occur off public roadways, involve industrial vehicles such as farm tractors, mobile machines such as cranes and pavers, and all-terrain vehicles.

2NETS [2021]. Cost of Motor Vehicle Crashes to Employers – 2019external icon

3CDC Vital Signs [2015]. Trucker Safety.

4NHTSA [2021]. Traffic Safety Facts: Large Trucks 2019external icon.

5Bureau of Labor Statistics [2019]. Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries, 2018external icon. Create customized tables.

6U.S. Fire Administration [2011-2020]. Fire Fighter Fatalities in United States in 2010-2019external icon.

7National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fundpdf iconexternal icon.

8Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

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Page last reviewed: September 22, 2021