In Putnam, Texas, on Friday, April 14, 2017, a fatal crash involving three 18-wheelers occurred on Interstate 20. According to the Department of Public Safety (DPS), a truck tractor or semi was parked on the shoulder of the westbound side of I-20. A second 18-wheeler slowed down when approaching the parked truck, and then a third truck driver in an 18-wheeler rear-ended the second. The driver of the third truck died.
Driving a commercial truck is one of the most hazardous jobs in the U.S. The following is information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- One out of every six people killed in job-related fatalities in the U.S. are 18-wheeler truck drivers.
- In 2014, 761 drivers of 18-wheelers died on the job. That year was the fifth year in a row that the total number of truck driver deaths increased.
- Of the deaths among truck drivers, 78% of them involved transportation incidents.
- Among all occupations, drivers of heavy trucks and tractor-trailer trucks have the highest total of nonfatal illnesses and injuries requiring days off from work. The 2014 total was 55,710.
- Compared to typical U.S. workers, 18-wheeler drivers are three times more likely to have an illness or injury requiring missed work days.
The most common injuries suffered by semi-truck drivers are the result of slips, trips, falls, and overexertion. Activities such as loading and unloading trucks, lifting heavy items, pushing and pulling containers, and getting in and out of the massive vehicles on a routine basis easily result in drivers overdoing it on the job.
The job of helping to reduce the number of crashes involving large commercial trucks and buses as well as reducing the severity of crashes is the responsibility of the Transportation Department’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. One major effort has been to impose regulations that prevent drivers from being on the road while fatigued.