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Ways to Prevent Job-Related Roadway Deaths, Critical Research Areas Identified by NIOSH

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 401-3749
November 6, 2003

Employers, employees, and others can take practical measures to prevent work-related roadway deaths while research continues in areas that are critical for further progress, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends in a new report.

“NIOSH Hazard Review: Work-Related Roadway Crashes—Challenges and Opportunities for Prevention” provides in-depth data, analysis, and recommendations for preventing the leading cause of job-related fatalities. Employee deaths in roadway crashes increased by 18.7 percent from 1992 to 2000, totaling 11,952 over the nine-year period.

The burden of fatalities and injuries is not limited to full-time professional drivers such as long-haul truckers. Other employees who operate company-owned vehicles over shorter trips and employees who drive personal vehicles on the job also are at risk. Preventive measures that can save lives include these, NIOSH recommends:

Employers should:

  • Enforce mandatory on-the-job use of seat belts,
  • Ensure that employees who drive on the job have valid licenses,
  • Incorporate fatigue management into safety programs,
  • Provide fleet vehicles that offer the highest possible levels of occupant protection in the event of a crash,
  • Ensure that employees receive necessary training to operate specialized vehicles,
  • Offer periodic vision screening and general physicals for employees whose primary job duty is driving,
  • Avoid requiring workers to drive irregular hours or significantly extended hours,
  • Establish schedules that allow drivers to obey speed limits,
  • Set policies in accordance with states’ graduated driver’s licensing laws and child labor laws, and
  • Assign driving-related tasks to younger employees incrementally.

Employees should:

  • Use safety belts,
  • Avoid using cell phones while driving, and
  • Avoid other potentially distracting activities such as eating, drinking, or adjusting non-critical vehicle controls while driving.

Transportation planners and traffic engineers should:

  • Consider reducing the number of places where vehicles can enter onto or exit from state highways and U.S. highways, thus minimizing the number of situations in which large trucks and local passenger vehicles entering the stream of traffic may collide,
  • Recommend wider use of shoulder rumble strips to alert drivers that they are leaving the roadway, and
  • Plan road construction projects so that traffic is isolated from construction activity whenever possible.

The new Hazard Review, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 2003-119, is the latest of several NIOSH reports to advance the prevention of work-related motor vehicle deaths and injuries. The Hazard Review is available by calling toll-free 1-800-35-NIOSH (1-800-356-4674) or from the web at Additional information on preventing work-related motor vehicle deaths and injuries is available on the web at

NIOSH is partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) and others to prevent roadway fatalities and injuries. On April 7, 2004, WHO will sponsor “World Health Day 2004: Road Safety,” which will mark the beginning of a one-year global road safety campaign. Further information on World Health Day 2004: Road Safety is available at