It is a well-known fact that the work that a trucker does is some of the most hazardous of any occupation. Commercial truck drivers in North Carolina and around the country face daily risks while out on the road, such as adverse weather conditions, crowded highways, negligent or unsafe motor vehicle drivers and long tedious hours driving that can lead to drowsy or fatigued driving.
Along with the on-the-job hazards that can cause severe injury in an accident, truck drivers may also suffer from work injuries once they are off the road. Many drivers must not only haul their loads over thousands of miles, but they must sometimes lift or haul heavy materials on or off the truck. Some of these injuries become chronic or repetitive over time, leading to occupational disease.
Traffic fatalities for truckers on the rise
According to the most recent federal data from 2019, truck fatalities from traffic accidents stood at 843, up from 745 in 2015. When adding on light-duty truck driver deaths, the industry suffered 1,005 occupational fatalities that year. One in seven workplace fatal injuries occur in heavy-duty trucking, making trucking the seventh riskiest industry in the country.
Among the factors that experts cite that could help reduce avoidable on-the-job injuries and death are:
- Repairing damaged or decaying road surfaces, and improving road infrastructure
- Equipping more vehicles with driver assistance systems
- Stricter testing to keep impaired professional drivers off the road
Occupational injuries that put truckers at risk
The most common occupational injuries that truckers experience off the road occur from:
- Pushing or pulling heavy containers
- Lifting heavy items during loading or unloading
- Prolonged sitting while driving, resulting in back, spine and neck injuries
- Getting into or out of the truck
Large truck operators have three times the likelihood of other workers of suffering serious injury requiring several days off from work.
When a North Carolina trucker suffers injuries as a result of driving their rig, moving heavy equipment or slipping while getting out of the truck, it is important to find out what rights they have to compensation benefits. If your injuries have resulted in prolonged recovery or even disability, knowing your options will help you to know the benefits to which you are entitled under the law.