Commercial transport accounts for more on-the-job deaths than any other profession. As made clear in a recent report released by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, nearly 40 percent of occupational fatalities stem from roadway incidents.
A range of factors contribute to the industry's dangers. Driving is, of course, an inherently dangerous activity, entailing that machinery weighing several tons hurtles at high speeds down our nation's highways. Professional drivers, moreover, work long hours, which makes them susceptible to lapses of attention - and the accidents that ensue.
The fatalities are unnecessary
Many commercial transport fatalities could be avoided. Long-haul truckers and others who spend their professional lives on the road have a reputation for driving aggressively - a reputation that, unfortunately, is well-earned. They speed. They tailgate. They change lanes abruptly and without signaling. It's not so surprising that injuries and casualties arise.
Employers are cracking down on their drivers to drive more safely. This isn't so surprising either; it is the employers who, through workers' compensation insurance programs, are compelled to pay for any damage done. One initiative, as detailed by workerscompensation.com, is to promote defensive driving.
What, exactly, is defensive driving?
It's a top-down strategy, requiring buy-in from management supervisors. As the article notes, "All levels of management must provide leadership, policies and resources to create a safety culture." Supervisors are implored to make repairs and respond to hazard reports more promptly than may be usual. It's also suggested that they develop formal guidelines and policies regarding driving safety that any employee must obey.
Of course, the drivers themselves must undertake most of the safety measures. The article lists a number of actions that professional drivers ought to undertake, including:
- Taking regular breaks to tamp down on distracted driving
- Setting realistic mile limits for each work day
- Performing regular maintenance on one's vehicle
- Obeying the speed limit and construction zone stipulations
- Maintaining a three-second gap behind other vehicles
- Learning the warning signs concerning other drivers who may be impaired or inattentive
In the most general sense, death is inevitable. Unfortunately, in the commercial transport industry, it is both inevitable and, statistically, more imminent. As long as there are vehicles and dense traffic there will be accidents; but, by following a few simple steps, there could - and should - certainly be fewer of them.