Truck drivers involved in nearly half of fatal crashes between 2008 and 2011

One in four road deaths in Ireland is work-related, new research has revealed. Analysis of accidents on the country’s roads from 2008 to 2011 found that a truck driver was involved in almost half of the 193 fatal accidents. The report published by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH) is the first time the scale of work-related road accidents and the associated fatalities have been comprehensively identified.

Using coroners’ records, researchers from University College Dublin found that only 15% of these work-related deaths involved the workers themselves. Of the 193 fatalities, 29 were people who were working at the time of the collision; 45 were bystanders where work activity was a primary contributor to the collision; and 119 were of bystanders where work activity was not a direct contributor. Professor Anne Drummond, of UCD’s School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science, said: “The most striking depositions are those in which drivers of large vehicles were largely unaware of the collision with a pedestrian or a cyclist, until they were halted by a witness further on in their journey.

“These situations could almost certainly be reduced by introducing measures to increase visibility in and around sections of large working vehicles traditionally known as blind spots and improving the awareness among pedestrians and cyclists of such blind spots.” Professor Drummond said the findings should be of real concern to road safety, public health, occupational health and regulatory authorities. The results of this study provide a benchmark for both future recording of data on work-related road traffic fatalities and national and employer-level strategies for prevention and intervention strategies, she said.

Kate Field, IOSH head of information and intelligence, said: ” This research will hopefully lead to an improvement in the reporting of fatal work-related road traffic accident statistics, helping to highlight the importance of reliable sources of notification through coroner’s, police or regulatory authorities records to avoid under-reporting and misreporting practices.”

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