The Teamsters for years have been front-and-center in the fight for ensuring proper rest breaks for truckers. And a new government report shows why that effort is so very important.
A National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries for 2015 found that heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers recorded 745 fatal injuries, the most of any occupation. Meanwhile, roadway incident fatalities were up nine percent in 2015, accounting for over one-quarter of the job-related fatal injuries that year. There were 1,264 roadway fatalities overall, almost half of which involved a semi, tractor-trailer or tanker truck.
Other data shows that those working in the transportation and warehousing sector trailed only those working jobs in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting sectors when it came to fatal work injuries.
That is not good news. But it will get even worse if Congress continues efforts to rollback mandatory rest breaks for truckers. For example, the Teamsters were disappointed to see the continuation of anti-safety policies for truckers included in the budget continuing resolution approved last month. It is an undisputable fact that many truck drivers are pushed to the limit on our roads. The Hours of Service rules originally put forth but suspended by Congress must be reinstated for the good of all who use the nation’s highways.
The consequences of curtailing rest breaks could be quite real. Already, nearly 4,000 lives are claimed each year on U.S. highways in accidents involving tractor trailers. And in the most recent available numbers from 2013, 97 percent of vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck were occupants of passenger vehicles.
Motorists deserve to feel safe on the nation’s roadways as they commute each day. But it is clear from these statistics that things are going the wrong way. Many truckers are facing difficult decisions when it comes to doing their jobs – driving the hours their employees want them to or doing it safely.
For the good of everyday Americans, rest breaks must not be reduced!