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Safer Healthier Workers

Drive Safely Work Week

Categories: Construction, Motor Vehicle Safety, Transportation

steering wheel

  •  A 45-year-old salesperson was killed in a motor vehicle crash while traveling to meet with clients.
  •   A 26-year-old emergency medical technician died when the ambulance she was in was struck head-on by a pickup truck traveling more than 70 miles per hour in the wrong lane of a two-lane road.
  •  A 42-year-old construction foreman lost his life as his company truck plowed into a slower-moving petroleum tanker.
  •  A 21-year-old highway worker died after a dump truck loaded with asphalt backed over him during a nighttime paving operation.

These are only a few examples of lives lost due to motor vehicle crashes at work.  Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related death in the United States.  Risk of work-related motor vehicle crashes cuts across all industries and occupations. Workers who drive on the job may be “professional” drivers whose primary job is to transport freight or passengers.  Many other workers spend a substantial part of the work day driving a vehicle owned or leased by their employer, or a personal vehicle. 

This week is Drive Safely Work Week.  The event, sponsored by Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), an employer-led public/private partnership of which NIOSH is a member, reminds us all to practice and promote safe driving for all workers and their families.

If we look at the data, this is a problem that cannot be ignored.  Thirty-five percent of occupational fatalities reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics are associated with motor vehicle crashes. Between 2003 and 2010, on average:

  • 1,275 workers died each year in crashes on public highways.
  • 311 workers died each year in crashes that occurred off the highway or on industrial premises.
  • 338 pedestrian workers died each year as a result of being struck by a motor vehicle.

Over the same period, workers incurred nearly 400,000 lost-workday injuries due to these incidents. Crash-related fatalities and serious injuries have a devastating impact on workers and their families, and on the economic health and productivity of American businesses.

How do we keep workers safe?

In the United States, companies and drivers that operate large trucks and buses are covered by comprehensive safety regulations.   In contrast, there are no Federal occupational safety regulations that cover the workers who use smaller employer-provided vehicles or personal vehicles.  

For all workers who drive on the job, employer safety policies are a critical element in reducing crash risks.  Employers should support and reinforce state traffic laws, but this alone does not adequately protect against the risks of crashes and injuries.  For example, not all states have made failure to use a safety belt a primary offense, and few have banned the use of handheld cell phones. Many employers choose to manage road risk more proactively through comprehensive policies and programs to promote safe driving behaviors, ensure that work-related driving takes place under the safest possible conditions, and ensure that worker vehicles are safe and properly maintained.  For specific steps employers can take to protect their employees and their companies see Work-Related Roadway Crashes: Prevention Strategies for Employers.

We would like to hear from you.  What steps has your company taken to make workplace driving safer? 

 

Stephanie Pratt, PhD

Dr. Pratt is Coordinator of the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety, and is based in the NIOSH Division of Safety Research.

For more information see the following NIOSH resources:

The NIOSH Motor Vehicle Safety Topic Page

Work-related Roadway Crashes: Older Drivers in the Workplace

Cops and Cars

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this site is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. October 7, 2012 at 6:04 pm ET  -   Adam Wargon

    Hi Dr. Pratt,

    Thanks for posting this important article. With regard to safer driving, I was surprised to read that “few [states] have banned the use of handheld cell phones.” Here in Alberta, we have implemented distracted driving legislation that applies not only to cell phones, but to many other forms of distraction as well. A poster on this legislation may be viewed at http://is.gd/eOji4v.

    Which American states have similar legislation?

    Best regards,

    Adam Wargon

    Link to this comment

    • AUTHOR COMMENT October 22, 2012 at 10:59 am ET  -   Stephanie Pratt

      Thank you for sharing this information about Alberta’s new distracted-driving legislation. The Alberta legislation raises an important point about driver distraction: while text-messaging and cell phones have received the most attention from researchers, safety advocates, and policy makers, there are other forms of distraction that place drivers, passengers, and other road users at risk. When talking with employers about distracted driving, NIOSH acknowledges the substantial risks of using cell phones and other devices while the vehicle is in operation. We also note the dangers of other forms of distractions such as reading, personal grooming, and manual entry into a GPS, all of which are addressed by the Alberta legislation.

      To our knowledge, no American state has passed comprehensive legislation that addresses distracted driving beyond text-messaging and use of handheld cell phones while driving. The best reference for current information on motor vehicle legislation in the United States is maintained by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) (http://www.iihs.org/laws/default.aspx). As of this writing, 39 U.S. states and the District of Columbia ban text-messaging while driving, and 10 states and the District of Columbia ban the use of handheld cell phones while driving.

      In the occupational safety arena, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the U.S. federal agency that sets regulations for the operation of large trucks and buses, has put in place rules banning text-messaging and use of handheld cell phones for all drivers of these vehicles throughout the U.S. For workers other than drivers of large trucks and buses, strong employer policies on distracted driving fill an important need because many states still permit text-messaging or use of handheld cell phones. NIOSH encourages employers to review the excellent resources on distracted driving available from the National Safety Council at http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/EmployerPolicies.aspx.

      Link to this comment

  2. October 9, 2012 at 3:59 pm ET  -   nikhil

    hi,
    thanks for showing the importance of driving safely,CDC is the best…..
    beat regards,..

    Link to this comment

  3. October 17, 2012 at 2:36 am ET  -   vehicle transporter

    hey,
    Thanks for posting this important article.thanks for sharing this driving safety blog.we got to know about many rules wild driving.thanks

    Link to this comment

  4. November 19, 2012 at 1:58 pm ET  -   David

    Distracted driving is a very serious issue. At zAutos.com we created an infographic highlighting the dangers of distracted driving. Hopefully it will help bring more awareness to what needs to be done which is more laws and education. [http://zautos.com/distracted-driving-infographic-dangers-of-distracted-driving/]

    Link to this comment

  5. January 9, 2014 at 9:15 am ET  -   E. Ryan Bradley

    Missouri banned texting and driving for people under 21. Right now, the FMCSRs only ban texting for interstate truck drivers, but they can talk. Its crazy. The federal government could easily introduce legislation controlling the use of cellular phones once they are in a vehicle (moving). Until this happens, people are going to be seriously killed and hurt on the roads. In fact, there are studies done which show bluetooth is just as distracting. As a missouri injury lawyer, I have seen too many senseless crashes and deaths cause by disracted driving. Safe travels everyone!

    Link to this comment

  6. May 3, 2014 at 3:49 am ET  -   Mick

    It is sad to see so many people lose their lives travelling to and from work.
    I must admit getting into a car and concentrating on just driving, and not the day ahead, or the day you have just had, is a difficult task.

    If people can take just a few seconds to relax before they start to drive will have a positive impact on road injuries and deaths. However we all know what the real world is like and this simple task is often difficult to remember.

    Link to this comment

  7. July 1, 2014 at 5:02 pm ET  -   Steven

    Sadly our engineers and breakdown recovery service see and attend many fatal casualties. Its such a shame that most of them are down to silly mistakes. People are so fixated now with technology, that there has been a massive increase of accidents caused by onboard and mobile devices.

    Link to this comment

  8. July 18, 2014 at 7:00 am ET  -   ALL WHEELS DRIVER TRAINING

    Very important blog on drive safely. Not much blog on seen drive safely. Aim is to prepare safe driving habits which needs good driving schools. It will give road test and deliver patient, friendly education for workers and students.

    Link to this comment

  9. October 10, 2014 at 2:04 pm ET  -   Keyoy

    Nice sharing…

    Link to this comment

  10. November 22, 2014 at 6:56 am ET  -   Brad

    After watching some real terrible accident on the internet and TV. I equipped myself a bluetooth car receiver in my bag. I carry it with me anywhere to eliminate the possibility of distraction during driving.

    Link to this comment

  11. February 5, 2015 at 5:22 am ET  -   Akemi

    Knowledgeable sharing..
    For safe workplace driving, company should take some steps on regular basis like all vehicles should be licensed & drivers should also be trained & licenced. Properly safty equipped while driving and with no hassle on job.

    Link to this comment

  12. September 8, 2015 at 7:00 am ET  -   Car Parts

    Really interesting stuff

    Link to this comment

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