As millions take to the roads this weekend for the Labor Day holiday, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) urges motorists and businesses to make sure drivers are not driving drunk, distracted or speeding.

Transportation crashes continue to be the number one cause of on-the-job deaths. ASSE reminds motorists that many of the vehicles on the road are there as part of the job such as utility workers, emergency responders, law enforcement officials, truckers, postal workers, construction workers, farmers, and millions are traveling to and from their job. Since 1992, transportation incidents have continued to be the number one cause of on-the-job deaths – in 2009, 40 percent of all U.S. workplace fatalities were transportation related.

“These crashes are preventable,” ASSE President Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP, said. “We must all do our part to prevent roadway crashes. Pay attention, don’t text and drive, don’t use the phone and drive, don’t speed, and obey all traffic laws.

“If you get into a crash,” Hill said. “Everyone pays. In addition to losing a loved one, a loss which cannot be measured, we all pay. The overall price tag for transportation crashes in the U.S. each year is $170 billion – for repairing the road, fences, lights and other infrastructure; emergency assistance; health care; rehabilitation; loss of production if it involves a worker; workers’ compensation; insurance costs; vehicle repair; court costs; lost time for those caught in a traffic jam due to an accident and the appointments missed including missed flights and trains. Yes, we all pay.”

Hill also noted that:
  • seat belt use saves more than 12,000 lives and prevents 325,000 serious injuries annually;
  • distracted driving is a factor in 25 – 30 percent of all traffic crashes;
  • driving under the influence accounts for 40 percent of all fatal crashes;
  • fatigued driving causes about 100,000 crashes a year;
  • young drivers -- under federal law 16-year-old workers cannot drive as part of their job and 17-year-olds may drive for work only under strictly limited circumstances – some states may be more restrictive;
  • 76 percent of those that die in transportation crashes are male;
  • the holiday reported to have the most fatalities is Thanksgiving followed by July 4, Memorial Day, Labor Day, New Year’s Day and Christmas – with close to half of all those fatal crashes being alcohol related;
  • the majority of people killed in roadway crashes are the driver;
  • the 25-34 age group recorded the most fatalities followed by those aged 45-54 and those aged 16-20;
  • most crashes were due to speeding; and
  • most fatal crashes occur on rural roads.

Many occupational safety, health and environmental professionals develop and implement workplace safety transportation procedures for their employers. These procedures are aimed at preventing and reducing transportation incidents. Businesses alone pay about $60 billion a year in medical care, legal expenses, property damages, lost productivity and increased workers’ compensation, social security, and private health and disability insurance costs as well as for the administration of these programs due to roadway crashes.

The average vehicle crash cost to an employer, according to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is $16,500; when a worker is involved in an on-the-job crash with injuries the cost to the employer is $74,000; and, costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved. A recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report estimates that the cost of a crash involving trucks with a gross weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds averaged $91,112; a crash with truck-tractors with two or three trailers are the rarest, but their cost was $289,549; the cost per nonfatal injury crash averaged $195,258; and, fatal crashes cost an estimated $3,604,518 per crash.