National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) researchers went to 32 truck stops across the  U.S. to collect safety data on long-haul truck drivers (LHTDs) – a group for which there’s limited occupational injury and safety data.

Approximately 1,701,500 people were employed as heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers in the United States in 2012, the majority of them were LHTDs.

NIOSH surveyed 1,265 LHTDs in 2010 about truck crashes, near misses, moving violations, work-related injuries, work environment, safety climate, driver training, job satisfaction, and driving behaviors.

Results suggested that an estimated 2.6% of LHTDs reported a truck crash in 2010, 35% reported at least one crash while working as an LHTD, 24% reported at least one near miss in the previous 7 days, 17% reported at least one moving violation ticket and 4.7% reported a non-crash injury involving days, t away from work in the previous 12 months. The majority (68%) of non-crash injuries among company drivers were not reported to employers.

An estimate of 73% of LHTDs (16% often and 58% sometimes) perceived their delivery schedules unrealistically tight; 24% often continued driving despite fatigue, bad weather, or heavy traffic because they needed to deliver or pick up a load at a given time; 4.5% often drove 10 miles per hours or more over the speed limit; 6.0% never wore a seatbelt; 36% were often frustrated by other drivers on the road; 35% often had to wait for access to a loading dock; 37% reported being noncompliant with hours-of-service rules (10% often and 27% sometimes); 38% of LHTDs perceived their entry-level training inadequate; and 15% did not feel that safety of workers was a high priority with their management.

NIOSH says the survey brings to light a number of important safety issues for further research and interventions, e.g., high prevalence of truck crashes, injury underreporting, unrealistically tight delivery schedules, noncompliance with hours-of-service rules, and inadequate entry-level training.

Among the findings:

  • 35% of long-haul truck drivers reported at least 1 crash in their career as an LHTD.
  • 68% of non-crash injuries involving days away from work were not reported.
  • 73% of LHTDs perceived their delivery schedules unrealistically tight.
  • 37% of LHTDs reported being noncompliant with hours-of-service rules.
  • 38% of LHTDs perceived their entry-level training inadequate.