Every year, here in Baltimore, over in Washington, D.C., and almost anywhere across this vast nation of ours, drivers and other occupants of cars and trucks, pedestrians, cyclists and riders of motorcycles are hurt or killed in traffic accidents every hour of every day for all twelve months of the year. As automobile and truck accident lawyers, I and my colleagues have met people who have received debilitating injuries thanks to a negligent drivers.
And the injuries are not reserved for just the driving public; many, and we mean, MANY commercial truck drivers are hurt on the job as a result of someone else’s negligence, mistakes made by third parties, and even through their own carelessness or recklessness. But the statement is often made, especially by those who have never been involved in a car or trucking-related accident that roadway collisions only happen to amateurs and poorly trained drivers. Frankly, this is not quite correct.
As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we understand the ways in which an individual can be injured in even the most innocuous of fender-benders, not to mention a full-blown, head-on collision with another motor vehicle. These types of traffic wrecks can be quite unpredictable and tragically random, especially for those who are killed by a negligent driver or through the careless actions of another individual.
Consider the most dangerous of working professions, if you will. As some may already know, every 12 months the United States’ Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes statistical data on death that occur in the workplace. While many people consider an office complex or factory building to be a “workplace,” it should come as no surprise that semi-tractor trucks, commercial delivery trucks and even passenger cars being used by traveling salesmen or other workers can be considered a workplace for the purposes of government statistics.
As such, one can imagine that the cab of an 18-wheeler and the passenger cabin of a sport utility vehicle used by a construction contractor can actually be places in which workers can be officially injured or killed. And while a number of industries — such as mining and construction — are well-known for making annual lists of the most dangerous professions, consider that the transportation industry is also represented in those figures, sometimes surprisingly so.
According to the latest data coming out of Washington, D.C., just over 4,600 deaths occurred from injuries that happened on the job in 2011 all across the U.S. Some may feel this is not something to crow about, however, for safety experts last year was at least better than 2010, in which nearly 4,700 people lost their lives while working on the job.
For motorists, it’s important to note that truckers and other commercial vehicle drivers rank fairly high in the fatality column. Take for instance, the top ten industries that have the greatest percentage of fatal injuries: Agriculture (including forestry, fishing and hunting) was Number 1 in 2011, with 557 deaths and a fatal injury rate of almost 3 in 10,000 people being killed on the job. When it comes to transportation-related working fatalities, this area came up third at 1.5 in 10,000; but the number of fatal injuries totaled 733 dead. Now this sector also included warehousing, but additional information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that truck drivers and other driving-related jobs made the top ten list of occupations having the highest rate of fatal work injuries.
For comparison, consider that fishermen, at No. 1, had the highest fatality rate of any profession at 12.1 deaths per 10,000. High iron workers came in at No. 6 with 2.7 per 10,000; and electrical linemen and other electrical utility repairmen came in at 9th place. Truckers were included in the group ranked eighth (at 2.4 per 10,000), while taxi drivers and chauffeurs came in tenth with a fatal injury rate of 1.9 per 10,000.
So the next time you pass a semi tractor-trailer on the highway, or step into a cab or limo to get across town, remember that these professionals can be just as likely to be killed as any one of a number of other individual doing what we all would consider much more hazardous jobs. As a passenger in a commercial vehicle, it could be a much more sobering thought, considering that you may be in the same “boat” as the cabbie or bus driver if and when his number comes up.
Do you have one of America’s most dangerous jobs?, CareerBuilder.com, September 21, 2012