Wholesale and Retail Trade: Motor Vehicle Related Injuries

Motor Vehicle-Related Injuries

From 2006–2016, wholesale sector fatality rates exceeded private industry rates.

In the wholesale sector, transportation-related incidents remained the leading fatality event. Transportation-related incidents accounted for 1,050 occupational deaths from 2006 through 2016. As the second leading cause of death in the retail sector, transportation incidents contributed to 795 occupational additional deaths.

The risk of work-related transportation and motor vehicle crashes cuts across all industries, not just professional drivers, such as truck and bus drivers. Wholesale and retail trade employees are frequently required to drive various vehicles ranging from passenger cars to small panel trucks to deliver products.

Wholesale and retail fatality exposures and events, 2006-2016
Wholesale-Retail Fatality Cases by Exposure and Event 2006-2016

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Department of Labor.


Since 2006, the incidence of transportation incidents declined among all private industry employees from 6.1 per 10,000 full-time workers in 2006 to 4.8 per 10,000 in 2016. The largest decrease occurred among wholesale workers, from a high of 9.6 per 10,000 full-time workers in 2006 to 6.9 per 10,000 in 2016. A smaller, but similar decline in transportation incidents was found among retail workers [BLS 2006, 2016]. Transportation injuries overall accounted for nearly 6% of all nonfatal injuries/illnesses.

With respect to fatalities, transportation incidents across all industry sectors accounted for 40% of the work-related fatalities in 2015; a figure that has remained remarkably stable over the decade. In 2015, fatalities due to transportation incidents accounted for nearly 50% (83 of 175) of all wholesale worker deaths and 25% of all retail fatalities (68 of 269). Wholesale employees working in merchant wholesale of nondurable goods (NAICS 424) were at the highest risk. Retail employees who were employed in one of the following retail businesses were also at a high risk for a work-related death: motor vehicle and parts dealers (NAICS 441), building material and garden equipment dealers (NAICS 444), and nonstore retailers (NAICS 454). The nonstore retailers include those retail businesses that rely on the internet for ordering and receiving merchandise.


WRT employers are interested in learning how to reduce or prevent motor vehicle-related events, both to improve safety and reduce costs. To keep making progress, it will important to develop partnerships with workers compensation insurance carriers to provide information, such as fact sheets, on the rates of MVCs. Insurance carriers are also interested in reducing the number and severity of motor vehicle-related events to reduce cost and “experience ratings” for each client. More information is needed on the causes of fatal and non-fatal motor vehicle-related events in general, and on the impact on drivers’ central nervous system functions from use of over-the-counter medications and prescription drugs. Additional research is needed to evaluate the economic costs and employers’ costs. This knowledge needs to be shared through improved translations documents and distributed through their trade and professional associations to increase employer awareness.


One of the important concerns is the economic impact of these fatal and nonfatal MVCs. Employers and safety experts need more information to ensure that both the human and business cost are fully recognized in order for changes and interventions to be implemented and sustained. Information generated from research focusing on the burden of motor vehicle-related events in wholesale and retail industries will help employers in the WRT sectors make informed decisions about developing or integrating interventions to protect workers. A reduction in MVCs or elimination of MVCs will benefit workers by providing a safe and secure workplace.

Page last reviewed: November 5, 2019