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On Death and Dying On the Job
as a Professional Truck Driver


How deadly is commercial truck driving? Is death and dying on the job something that professional truck drivers actively work to avoid yet fail to make adequate preparations for in advance? What if you don't make preparations?

We are going to try to handle this topic with sensitivity and yet straightforwardness because we feel you need to be prepared.

(We updated this article.)

According to one article, commercial truck driving is the ninth deadliest job due to work-related incidences, but could possibly be the deadliest when "heart complications, blood clots, and other sedentary lifestyle related abnormalities were factored in."(1) That's rather sobering.

This March 2011 AOL article also listed truck driving in the #9 position on the list of the top 10 most dangerous jobs.

A 2013 article on Forbes.com lists "America's 10 Deadliest Jobs" with "Driver/Sales Workers & Truck Drivers" in the #8 position.

No doubt about it, driving a truck professionally is dangerous and can be deadly.

We are saddened by each of these selected cases of death and dying within the trucking industry:

  • losing control on a curve (link);
  • losing control and plunging over the side of a bridge (2);
  • median crossover accident and head-on collision (3);
  • running off the road and hitting trees (link);
  • rear-end collision into another truck (4);
  • in an attempt to free truck stuck in snow (link);
  • at a toll booth (5); and
  • during an attempted railroad crossing (link). (We cover truck railroad crossing accidents separately, but on this page, we're zeroing in on fatalities only.)

There are many, many more cases of truck drivers dying on the job.

Some of them include situations in which truckers were killed due to road rage, during a robbery or perhaps accidentally in a truck stop.

On August 9, 2011, a UPS driver (yes, it's a delivery truck, but a truck nonetheless) was killed instantly when a tree fell on his truck during high winds.

We're confident that no professional driver wakes up one day, thinking that they will die on the job that very day. But it happens.

Update: On December 11, 2012, Fleetowner.com ran an article about 2011 highway deaths, which stated:

... fatalities in accidents involving large trucks increased by almost 20% in all categories including truck driver deaths. The only category of truck accident fatalities to decrease was that of other-vehicle-occupant fatalities, which declined by 3.6%.





The following are two different views of the remains of a tractor (company name purposefully removed) after a professional driver had a bad accident. We don't know whether the driver who was driving at the time this damage happened was killed. But this looks pretty bad to us.

Remains of a truck after an accident. Remains of a truck after an accident.

Patient on gurney being given medical care.

No trucker wants to be involved in an on-the-job accident, especially the kind that requires hospitalization, time off work and ends in death and dying.


Headstone or grave marker in a cemetery after funeral But accidents happen in trucking, even fatal accidents. Death and dying is a very real possibility.

The last time we checked, except in the Biblical accounts of Enoch (Genesis 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), the mortality rate among humans is 100%. If you think about it, we're all "terminal." It's not a matter of "if" but "when" we're going to die. So, it makes good sense to make adequate preparations for your own death and dying. This is especially true if you have family members.

Vicki knows about the squabbling that some families get into regarding the disposition of assets after another family member dies, even if that person dies without a will. It is human nature at its worst when sheer greed kicks in. Everyone jostles for position to get what they think is their "fair share" (when it really isn't theirs to begin with).

One view of asset management -- prior to death -- goes like this: "Do your giving while you're living, so you're knowing where it's going." Will a trucker's family members who depended upon the trucker's income find comfort in that after the trucker dies on the job?





Mike's mother was a wise woman. Not only did she have her last will and testament in place, but she pre-paid for her own funeral and burial expenses. We were so impressed by this that not long after her passing away, we pre-paid for our own final arrangements. Her death and dying was eased for her children in this way and we want that for our loved ones, too.

But after the funeral or memorial service, after the burial or cremation, what then?

Sorrowing woman

Did you adequately prepare for the welfare of your family members? If you were the primary breadwinner in your family, what will they live on after you're gone? Consider the after-effects of your death and dying.

You would be wise to consider not only an adequate amount of life insurance, but also make sure that the people whom you want to receive it are listed as your beneficiaries.

We have a friend whose spouse died. All of the spouse's insurance policies -- except one -- had been updated to list our friend as beneficiary. That old policy listed someone as beneficiary from many years before, someone they would rather not have had get the money. But after the spouse's death, it was too late to do anything.






In addition to life insurance (you determine if "whole life" or "term" is best for you), don't forget to make out your last will and testament.

We have a Prepaid Legal Services membership that allows us to update our wills once a year with no added cost besides our monthly membership fee. (We do not at all recommend getting a cookie-cutter legal form from an office supply store because it may not provide you with all of the options you need or should know about.)

When considering the inevitability of death and dying, you may also need to have other legal documents in place. Some people have a living trust, living will or health care power of attorney in place. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each one so that you will have exactly what you want and need for the future. Review your documents at least once a year and make updates as needed, especially if new children are born or added to your family. Make sure that your family members know where these documents are located.

Last will and testament in filing cabinet

It is also an excellent idea for husbands and wives to regularly discuss their financial affairs with each other in the event that one of them experiences death and dying. Vicki has a friend who tells the story of one of her mother's friends. The husband continually told his wife that they were flush with cash. The wife took her husband's word for it without ever digging further. When her husband died, the woman wanted "the best" for her husband, believing that there was plenty of money to pay for everything. She received a rude awakening. Not only was there not the nest egg she had been led to believe they had, but she had to go to work to pay for the funeral expenses and provide for her own living!

Man writing on pad

We recommend that if you haven't already, you start making a list of your assets, your accounts, your policy numbers, contact names and addresses, and the like. While you're making preparations regarding death and dying, do not forget to list all of your digital assets along with your preferred method of disposition.

When you have your information written down, store it in an easy-to-find location. Be sure that you put all your legal documents, policies and other important papers together and advise your family members of their location.

You may also want to consider making copies of some of these documents and putting them in a different location, in the event of a fire.

We have crafted a couple of files to help make it easier for you:


On a personal note: Many people may be prepared financially to die but be totally unprepared spiritually. The Bible teaches that every person will spend eternity in one of two places: heaven or hell. Are you a good person? That is, are you good enough to get into heaven? We refer you to the "good person test" so that you can find out...



According to a January 3, 2017, article, "Truckers accounted for most workplace fatalities of any occupation in 2015".

In other words, driving a truck was the deadliest occupation in 2015.






truck drivers money saving tip icon

Money saving tip: Similar to the way you plan your trips, we recommend that you plan for your family members after you pass on. Coming to grips with death and dying is hard enough emotionally without having to try to compile financial and account information that should have already been compiled.

Seek qualified professional assistance on matters beyond your level of expertise. There's no sense skimping on matters of this caliber. However, if you can save money by having your legal documents reviewed by attorneys through a legal services plan, that is worth investigating.

Make sure that you take the time to review your information at least annually. Protect documents that need to be protected. Beware of storing information in a locked safety deposit box at a bank. Ask your local banker for details about accessing safety deposit boxes upon the death of a box holder.



References:

1. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/662145/the_deadly_lifestyles_of_truckers_and.html?cat=5 (no longer online)
2. http://www.news10.net/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=70068 (no longer online)
3. http://www.kentucky.com/2010/03/27/1198373/at-least-11-killed-in-i-65-crash.html (no longer online)
4. http://www.sodahead.com/living/truck-driver-killed-in-us-31-crash/blog-28516/ (no longer online)
5. http://archive.indystar.com/article/20100108/NEWS/1080368/Trucker-killed-while-taking-Toll-Road-ticket (no longer online)








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