Heavy and tractor-trailer drivers experienced the most fatalities among any detailed occupation last year, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, at 831. Truck drivers and driver/sales workers had the most work-related deaths of any broad occupation group, too, at 966.
Truck drivers also topped the list of the most deaths among independent workers in 2018, at 96.
John Wilbur, CEO of the Roadmaster Group, a specialized transportation company headquartered in Arizona, told FOX Business that truck drivers are definitely at risk on the road.
"Driving is one of the most difficult professional blue-collar jobs in America," Wilbur said. "It's a fact, it's a dangerous job."
Wilbur noted that oftentimes truck drivers take heat when accidents occur, even if it is not their fault. That's because they can be transporting 80,000 pounds worth of truck and cargo, which inherently creates a dangerous situation in the event of a collision.
Many industry experts, however, have told FOX Business that safety is improving as companies put a larger emphasis on training programs. Prospective drivers can often use CDL simulators. Additionally, new technology in trucks is making them safer, including updates like automatic shifts and assisted driving features.
Wilbur agreed that while the profession is "heading in the right direction," it remains and will remain a difficult and dangerous occupation.
Overall, in 2018 there were 5,250 work-related deaths recorded in the U.S., which was 2 percent more than the year prior.
The fatal work injury rate held constant at 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
While truck drivers had the highest fatality rates, the death rate rose the fastest last year among logging workers, fishers, aircraft pilots, flight engineers and roofers.
Transportation-related accidents accounted for 40 percent of all work-related fatalities.