Keeping Workers Safe on the Road

Posted on by Stephanie Pratt, PhD, and Rebecca Olsavsky, MS

Reducing deaths due to motor vehicle crashes has been one of the greatest public health achievements of the last 50 years. In 2014, the rate of crash deaths in the United States, based on miles driven, was one-fifth the rate for 1966. And, the number of deaths decreased from 50,894 in 1966 to 32,675 in 2014. But, as CDC Vital Signs reports, the United States still lags behind other high-income countries in reducing deaths and injuries from motor vehicle crashes. Moreover, we should be concerned by a leveling-off of progress since 2009, and early estimates of motor vehicle crash fatalities for 2015 indicate 35,200 deaths – a return to the level of fatalities seen in 2008.

Business Pulse chart for NIOSH blog
* Vehicle drivers and passengers only. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics public data, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries; Census Bureau, Current Population Survey.


We see a similar picture for motor vehicle crash deaths at work – progress starting in 2009, but little sustained improvement in the number or rate of deaths. Crashes remain the leading cause of injury death at work. Crash risk affects workers in all industries and occupations, whether they drive heavy or light vehicles, and whether driving is their main or incidental job. In addition to having a devastating impact on workers and their families, friends, and communities, workplace crashes are costly. In 2013 alone, on-the-job motor vehicle crashes cost U.S. employers $25 billion.

Motor vehicle crashes are complex events, so preventing them demands a multi-pronged approach. For businesses, preventing workplace crashes starts with a thorough assessment of the risks drivers may face while doing their jobs, and making sure these risks are addressed through policies and programs. Businesses with strong road safety performance often use a variety of strategies to address a single issue. For example, a policy requiring all vehicle occupants to use a seat belt may be accompanied by a worker education campaign. The seat-belt policy may also be supported by use of in-vehicle monitoring systems to identify unsafe driving and correct it through coaching, or by buying company vehicles with seat-belt interlocks. Some companies even provide information on the value of using a seat belt for workers to share with their families. The bottom line is that businesses play a pivotal role in protecting workers from being involved in a crash at work, and they can also have a positive effect on road safety for workers’ families and communities.

Learn more about how NIOSH and CDC resources can help businesses prevent motor vehicle crashes at work. Visit CDC Business Pulse: Motor Vehicle Safety at Work for information on the human and economic impact of workplace crashes, policy checklists for business leaders and workers, and more. Visit the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety website for more information for research-based guidance to prevent motor vehicle crashes for truck drivers, high-risk workers, and all who drive for work.


Stephanie Pratt, PhD, is the Director of the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety.

Rebecca Olsavsky, MS, is a Health Communications Specialist Fellow in the NIOSH Center for Motor Vehicle Safety.


Posted on by Stephanie Pratt, PhD, and Rebecca Olsavsky, MS

6 comments on “Keeping Workers Safe on the Road”

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 ».

    It would be interesting to have each year broken down further to show more details of causes such as;
    -distracted driving (talking & texting – and a way of showing if states that have banned texting while driving to see if there is a difference)
    -impaired driving (alcohol vs. other impairment, including states where marijuana has been legalized for recreational use)

    It’s irritating that neither NIOSH nor OSHA have opined on sleep deprivation caused by extended duty at work as a contributor to motor vehicle crashes by workers commuting home. There’s a literature on this, a few examples at the end of this post. At the very least, NIOSH/OSHA should summarize the FMCS requirements and opine on implications for workers who aren’t covered.

    12. Mitler MM, Dinges DF, Dement WC. Sleep medicine, public policy, and public Health. In: Kryger MH, Roth T, Dement WC (eds). Principles and Practice of Sleep Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: WB Saunders; 1994;453-462.
    13. Barger LK, Cade BE, Ayas NT, et al. Extended work shifts and the risk of motor vehicle crashes among interns. N Engl J Med 2005;352:125-134.

    It’s shocking. Just can’t believe this as per average its 1.1%. I don’t understand why businesses are not taking more care towards worker safety.
    Was reading a blog post on a site it was about the UK health and safety check at work place, believe me or not they are well organized and strong legislation make it more secure for both business and worker.

    very nice and useful article for me this article as long as I find and I find it in your blog. Thank you for sharing, I wait for the next article.

    It is our duty to keep them safe. This is good. And BTW, I just recently came across this new research study that I want to share. The study was done to check the affects of marijuana and alcohol on driving. Now Marijuana may not be completely safe and it would obviously interfere with our daily tasks but it’s at least not as bad as alcohol and tobacco which have been legal in most countries from a long time. Here is a recent research study: – research study done by University of Iowa on the affects of cannabis on driving and the results are quite interesting. Take a look at the original study to know more in detail.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted become a part of the public domain, and users are responsible for their comments. This is a moderated site and your comments will be reviewed before they are posted. Read more about our comment policy »

Page last reviewed: August 24, 2016
Page last updated: August 24, 2016