Fatal Work Injuries More Likely for Older Transportation Workers

Workers who are 55 and older and drive for a substantial part of their job are at high risk for work-related fatalities in North Carolina and elsewhere.
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A recent report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveals that older professional drivers are more likely to be killed in crashes than their younger counterparts. The reasons may be complex, but the study authors concluded it had to do with declining cognition, as well as a greater susceptibility to injury.

Workers between the ages of 55 and 64 were 50 percent more likely to die in a crash than those who were younger. Workers over the age of 65 who drove for a living were three times more likely to die. Transportation accidents are the No. 1 cause of workplace deaths in the country.

Even those older drivers who survived serious crashes were likely to have more extensive injuries than their younger counterparts. Their recovery time was more extensive and they were less likely to return to work after such an incident.

This is something we can likely anticipate seeing much more of, as the U.S. workforce, along with our overall population, ages. By 2020, it’s expected that 25 percent of workers in America will be 55 or older. That’s more than double than the 12 percent it was in 1990.

We worry that the results of such research might lead to age discrimination in the workforce. However, there is also ample evidence that older drivers are in many way better than younger drivers. They tend to take fewer risks, drive at lower speeds and be less susceptible to distraction.

Plus, there is a lot that companies can do to further bolster safety for its older working drivers. Those include allowing drivers to use their best judgment in rescheduling certain travel times. Giving drivers more leeway if they choose to stop driving if it gets too dark, if there is bad weather or if they begin to feel ill or too tired will result in safer outcomes. That goes for drivers of all ages, not just those over the age of 65.

The CDC made a number of other risk-reduction recommendations too. Those included:

  • Selection and/or adaptation of vehicles that would better accommodate older drivers.
  • Adoption of workplace policies that include less driving overall, whenever possible. In particular, the agency recommends a reduction of nighttime driving.
  • Development of alternative modes of transportation, when possible.
  • Offering refresher driving training courses for all workers.
  • Detailed development of trip and route planning prior to leaving, which may help to reduce fatigue and stress.
  • For workers required to stand or walk near roadways, training and educational strategies should incorporate specific instructions for those whose age-related perceptual or cognitive deficits may result in a higher likelihood of an accident.

There is a tendency to think that if a worker is involved in a motor vehicle crash on the job, that is his or her own fault. However, prevention of workplace crashes is a shared responsibility between worker and employer.

If you have been injured at work in North Carolina, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Older Transportation Workers More Likely to Die in Job Accidents, Aug. 26, 2013, By Drew Armstrong, Insurance Claims rnal

More Blog Entries
Roadside Workers and Protection from On-The-Job Dangers, Sept. 7, 2013, Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog

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