Top Trucking Hazards

In a previous article I talked about the top hazards that supervisors and workers need to watch out for on construction sites. Today I’m going to take a look at the top hazards faced by commercial truck drivers.

The injury rates for tractor-trailer and small-delivery-truck drivers are higher than the national average across all occupations.

Here are the top four causes of injuries and fatalities in the truck driving industry, and what drivers can do to stay safe during what is unfortunately a very dangerous job.


1. Collisions With Other Vehicles

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the top 10 causes of “large truck” crashes are:

  1. Brake problems
  2. Traffic flow interruption (congestion, previous crash)
  3. Prescription drug use
  4. Traveling too fast for conditions
  5. Unfamiliarity with roadway
  6. Roadway problems
  7. Required to stop before crash (traffic control device, crosswalk)
  8. Over-the-counter drug use
  9. Inadequate surveillance
  10. Fatigue


In a 2007 study, fatigue was found to account for 13% of these large-truck crashes.

What drivers can do:

  • Don’t drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on duty
  • Take plenty of breaks. If you take a nap, allow yourself at least 20 minutes before you return to driving.


2. Musculoskeletal Injuries

Muscle sprains are among the top trucking hazards

“Overexertion injuries” are all too common among truck drivers. 40% of these injuries are caused by lifting heavy boxes or packages. 34% percent are caused by lifting or lowering objects.

What drivers can do:

  • Whenever lifting heavy objects, use mechanical lifts or wear a back brace for support.
  • Use proper lifting techniques (bend at your knees, not at your back).
  • Stay fit by exercising regularly. This includes doing basic stretching at least three times a week.



3. Obesity and High Blood Pressure

Extended periods of sitting are known to contribute to health issues such as obesity and metabolic problems, as well as increased blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Unfortunately, long periods of sitting are unavoidable in a truck driver’s line of work.

What drivers can do:

  • While waiting for your truck to be loaded, walk, stretch, or do any other exercise around your truck that keeps you active.
  • Eat healthy snacks. These could be hard to find once you are already on the road, so plan ahead and bring them with you.



4. Slips, Trips, and Falls

In the trucking industry, most non-fatal injuries are caused by falls.

What drivers can do:

  • Use the three-point system when entering and exiting the cab. Alternate placing two feet on the steps and one hand on the rails, or two hands on the rails and one foot on the steps.
  • Watch out for slippery surfaces on or around your truck. Steps, handholds, gratings, tank tops and ground surfaces can be extra slippery when any amount of oil, moisture, snow, or ice are present.
  • When walking around your truck at night, always use a flashlight.



Sources: FMCSA, DrivePFS, Bureau of Labor Statistics (1), Bureau of Labor Statistics (2), Truckers Logic, JB Hunt, Non Force Dispatch






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