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December 27, 2019
NIOSH releases latest motor vehicle safety plan

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) released a draft strategic plan for studying motor vehicle safety issues over the next 10 years. The institute is seeking comment on its “Center for Motor Vehicle Safety (CMVS) Strategic Plan, 2020-2029.” Comments are due February 14, 2020.

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Strategies identified in the draft 2020-2029 plan include:

  • Strengthening the understanding of how risk factors contribute to work-related motor vehicle crashes and injuries, and communicating this information to employers, workers, and others;
  • Developing and evaluating the effectiveness of engineering and technology-based interventions to prevent work-related motor vehicle crashes and injuries, and advance adoption of these interventions; and
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of motor vehicle safety management programs and practices and promoting their adoption.

Specific topics of research include:

  • Fatigue-related risk factors and the extent to which work organization factors, such as work hours and schedules, and individual factors, such as commuting times and distances, influence motor vehicle safety and crash and injury occurrence;
  • How individual driver factors such as age, years of experience, training, driving practices, health status and behaviors, sleep habits, prescription drugs (including opioids), illicit drugs, and substances impact work-related crashes and crash-related injury;
  • Obtaining baseline measurements of fatal and non-fatal crashes and injuries among gig workers for hire on ride-sharing platforms;
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of and worker acceptance of advanced driver assistance systems and automated driving systems, especially in-vehicle technologies that detect, warn, and/or intervene to prevent fatigue-related crashes; and
  • Evaluating strategies to increase seat belt use among workers.

The new strategies differ slightly from the five strategic goals of the Center’s 2014-2018 plan. NIOSH found in a 2016 mid-course review that CMVS had failed to meet 16 of 46 performance measures, met or exceeded 14 measures, and partially met 16 others.

Unmet milestones included:

  • Initiating research to validate fleet safety management audit tools;
  • Initiating a project to assess the integration of motor-vehicle safety management programs into occupational safety and health management systems; and
  • Publishing a document on new technologies found in vehicles used for work purposes, challenges and risks associated with introducing these technologies, and researching ideas on best safety practices.

Fatal transportation incidents

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related injury deaths in the United States, according to NIOSH. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently reported that transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal workplace event at 2,080 in 2018, accounting for 40% of all work-related fatalities.

While logging workers had the highest rate of fatalities in 2018; driver/sales workers and truck drivers had the most fatalities of any broad occupation group at 966 and heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers had the most fatalities among detailed occupations at 831.

However, the Center for Motor Vehicle Safety looks at preventing work-related crashes and injuries for workers who drive all types of vehicles, not just the commercial motor vehicles.

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