Two recent statistical releases have served to remind us all, what a dangerous industry trucking is. It’s not that those who work in the industry don’t know it is dangerous out there on the highway, it’s just we become blasé about it and it isn’t always front of mind.
The stats are in and the very nature of the industry means it is intrinsically dangerous. We can try as hard as we like but many of the 600,000 people working in the industry are going to be out there on the public highway dealing with low skilled drivers in other vehicles, poorly maintained roads and unpredictable human beings.
The first set of figures are from a Life Insurance Finder survey which puts transport, postal and warehousing together and reckons its the deadliest industry sector in which to work, with 65 deaths per year. The industry also has a high level of injuries on an annual basis, with 8,450 injuries, or 1.4 per cent of everyone in the industry reporting an injury.
Only manufacturing comes close, with 1.8 per cent getting injured, but the fatality rate is much lower with only 18 deaths out of a total workforce close to 1 million.
The industry doesn’t just kill people working in it. Because we are out on the public highway, the public are also involved in the statistics. According to the latest figures from the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics, during the 12 months to the end of June 2014, 213 people died from 192 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks or buses. This includes 116 from 105 crashes involving articulated vehicles, down 6.1 per cent over the past three years.
More concerning are the heavy rigid fatality figures which have been creeping up in recent years. 89 deaths from 79 crashes involving heavy rigid trucks, this is 2.6 per cent up on last year and contributed to a 9.2 per cent increase in deaths involving heavy rigids in the past three years.
Those working in the industry need to know, in their own minds, this is a dangerous place to work. Running these kinds of figures by them can, perhaps, help to bring home the reality. Out on the highway, or in the warehouse, the day to day life does involve risk but we tend to play it down, it doesn’t bear thinking about.
This is OK until something does happen. In trucking, we are dealing with heavy objects moving at high speeds. When something happens it can often be deadly. It’s not like the shop assistant who gets the till wrong, or the chef who doesn’t add enough seasoning, this is serious, people die out there. Lot’s of them!