Trucking Among Deadliest Jobs in the USA

Feb. 13, 2019

A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that trucking is one of the deadliest jobs in the US. Given the size of big rigs, the crashes they are involved intend to be deadly and involve situations such as underride accidents, which are particularly gruesome. Despite the risk to truck drivers, regulators recently overruled California meal and rest break laws as they applied to truck drivers, finding those federal hours of service rules conflicted with state rules. Critics of the move say that rather than improving safety it will put motorists’ lives at risk.

At Cutter Law, our attorneys have extensive experience in trucking and automobile claims. We’ve represented countless personal injury clients who have been harmed by another driver’s actions and fight tirelessly to ensure our clients receive the compensation they’re entitled to. We know how difficult the time after a car or truck accident is, and we’re here to guide you through the process.

More than 780 Truck Drivers Killed While Working

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2017, fatalities in the transportation and material moving occupational group and the construction and extraction occupational group combined to make up 47 percent of worker deaths. Heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had 840 on-the-job fatalities in the year. That’s an increase from 786 fatalities in 2016.

What do the Numbers Say About Truck Driving Safety?

Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not include what causes the truck crashes, and varying people have different opinions on the matter. Among the possible reasons is a lack of safety training or crashworthiness testing, driver fatigue, and driver inattentiveness.

The Bureau does note that the majority of truck driving work-related deaths involved “transportation incidents,” but does not state whether other fatalities were involved in those incidents. It does show that there were 663 transportation-related deaths that involved a roadway collision with another vehicle.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), however, has data on truck driver and other motorist deaths. According to its data, there were 841 large-truck occupants who died in single or multiple vehicle accidents in 2017. That same year there were 3,450 fatalities in other vehicles and 470 people not in a vehicle who died as a result of a large-truck crash. The NHTSA defines a large truck as any medium or heavy truck with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 10,000 pounds but not including buses or motorhomes.   

Overall, the number of fatalities in crashes involving large trucks increased by nine percent from 2016, while fatal crashes involving tractor-trailers increased by almost 6 percent. The total of other people who died in crashes involving large trucks increased by more than 7.5 percent.  

Regulators Preempt California’s Hours of Service Rules

Given the increase in fatalities in accidents involving large trucks, it would seem federal regulators would be interested in upholding regulations that encourage safe driving practices. Recently, however, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced it would preempt California’s hours of service rules regarding truck drivers.

The FMCSA said it has the ability to preempt state laws if the laws have no safety benefit and either are not compatible with federal regulations or put an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce. The agency determined California’s meal and rest break rules fit those requirements and issued its ruling preempting the law in favor of federal regulations.

California’s rules call for drivers to have a 30-minute meal-break after every five hours of work and a 10-minute rest period for four hours of work. A group of congressional Democrats wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation urging it not to preempt state laws, noting that pre-emption would “have a dramatic impact on the rights of states to protect the safety of the public, to maintain highway safety and to provide for the well-being of commercial truck drivers.”

The letter writers also noted that if drivers and their employers agreed, meal and rest breaks could be waived as long as the truck driver is paid for the time worked.

Trucking Accident Lawyer

Given the damage and devastation that can occur as a result of a truck accident, it’s vital that truck drivers be given adequate meal and rest breaks, and trucking safety to be held to the highest standards. At Cutter Law, we’ve seen the catastrophic consequences of trucking accidents, and we’ve fought hard to hold trucking companies and drivers accountable for their actions.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a trucking accident, we are here to fight for you. Contact our Sacramento or Oakland attorneys for a no obligation consultation so we can discuss your circumstances and advise you of your rights. Call us toll free at 888-285-3333 or fill out an online form to schedule a consultation.

Personal injury and civil justice attorney Brooks Cutter is a leading advocate for consumer justice and protecting the rights of the severely injured. Brooks founded Cutter Law, P.C., with offices in Sacramento and Oakland, with…
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