Trucking Safety

I get feedback regularly from you, the readers and one comment that I often hear from you is why do I always stress trucking safety?

Did you know that trucking is one of the most dangerous professions in North America? Yeah, I just looked it up again, and you trucking professionals are number 8 on the list of 10. Trucking is in the top ten professions that kill workers. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, truck drivers have a fatality rate that is 26 times higher than workers in other professions.

Truck drivers suffer 26 deaths per 100,000 workers. YES, 26 of 100,000. Oh My.

That is a lot of people leaving their homes and never coming back again. And please remember that this is not counting the injuries. I am only talking about the deaths.

There are many reasons why trucking is so dangerous, including extended hours on the road, tight deadlines, and hazardous weather conditions.

So why do I talk so much about trucking safety? I am trying to get truck drivers to make small behavioural changes. We can control our future to at least some degree by changing what we do. For example, I recently saw yet another truck driver holding their cell phone to their ear. They were driving a standard transmission vehicle in the city at the time! What a bozo.

You are working long hours. For most people, overtime is after 35, 37, or 40 hours a week. For a truck driver who started the week on Monday, they may have done 40 hours by the end of the day Wednesday. And that driver still has at least two more days till they get their weekend, so fatigue is undoubtedly a contributing factor.

Another issue is that I believe that most truck drivers are paid for safety risks. Many drivers are paid by the mile or the load, which means that they are subtly encouraged to rush. We also have weather conditions to think about. Truck drivers don’t just drive in beautiful daylight. Truck drivers are like postal workers, the mail must get through. Truck drivers often must drive in weather that is far from good. Some truck drivers often continue operating their vehicles when they know they should stop. Many of us have seen this repeatedly result in collisions.

And then there’s one more risk that comes to my mind. And I believe it is the most significant and most uncontrollable risk. “The other driver.” We know that most fatal crashes are not caused by professional truck drivers. However, that does not stop truck drivers from losing their lives. Every day you are involved in collisions that were not your fault and crashes that despite driving safely, you could not have prevented.

Truck drivers keep the economy moving. You were all celebrated as heroes during the pandemic. People applauded and encouraged you, saying what a great job you did. How short our memories are. Now many are back to saying that truck drivers are a menace on the road. Their large size and slowness are often nothing more than an inconvenience for a car driver.

Unfortunately, many people who share the road with trucks do not give the truck and the driver the respect they have earned. Trucking is one of North America’s most dangerous and demanding professions, with a fatality rate 26 times higher than other industries. To improve safety for everyone on the road, we need to understand what dangers truckers face to better educate ourselves and others about how to share the streets safely. Truck drivers deserve our respect as they are essential workers who keep the economy moving. Making small behavioural changes such as following speed limits, avoiding distractions while driving and respecting trucks’ right-of-way, we can all help to reduce fatalities among these hardworking individuals.

Stay safe. 

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.