Workplace accident statistics reveal that truck drivers in South Dakota and around the country have one of the nation’s most dangerous jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2019 National Census of Occupational injuries, truck drivers killed while on the job account for more than one in seven workplace fatalities in the United States. The data also suggests that autonomous and semiautonomous safety features like automatic emergency braking systems and lane departure warnings have done little to prevent deadly commercial vehicle crashes.
The deadliest year on record
Despite advances in commercial vehicle safety systems, truck driver deaths have been climbing steadily since 2015. The introduction of tougher logistics industry regulations has also failed to curb the rising number of fatal accidents and workers’ compensation cases involving truck drivers. More than 1,000 semi-tractor trailer and light-duty truck drivers were killed while on the job in 2019, which makes the year the deadliest since the BLS began tracking this data in 2003.
Fatigue and substance abuse
While many of the truck drivers who lose their lives on the nation’s roads each year are killed in accidents caused by bad weather, mechanical failures or the negligence of other road users, a worryingly large number of them crash because they are either fatigued or under the influence of alcohol or drugs This has led to calls for stricter enforcement of hours of service regulations and more rigorous drug testing methods. When researchers from the University of Arkansas studied this issue, they concluded that as many as 300,000 truck drivers would lose their commercial driver’s licenses if the industry switched from urine to hair follicle tests.
Workers’ compensation claims
When injured truck drivers or other workers hurt in on-the-job accidents seek workers’ compensation benefits in South Dakota, their claims are sometimes denied by their employers or an insurance company. When this happens, an attorney with experience in this area could arrange for the matter to be mediated by the Division of Labor and Management. If mediation is unsuccessful, an attorney could petition for a hearing to argue the facts before an administrative law judge.