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Workers' compensation: Concern over number of trucker fatalities

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a report last October that shows an alarming rise in fatalities among heavy-duty truckers. While 3.5 deaths occur per 10,000 workers across all professions, 26.8 in every 10,000 truckers die in traffic accidents. That represents a 25 percent increase since 2011. These numbers will likely also reflect in the claims for survivor's benefits that are filed with the workers' compensation program in California and other states.

According to the National Transportation Institute, alcohol and drug use have become a matter of concern because approximately one in every seven drivers who apply for trucking jobs fail their drug tests. Safety authorities further state that too many trucker deaths are caused by excessive speed and distractions, with a significant percentage of them failing to wear their seatbelts. Drowsy driving and fatigue also feature as causes of a substantial proportion of big rig driver fatalities.

Reportedly, many drivers admit to pushing themselves to get as many miles as possible covered within the allowed hours, regardless of fatigue. However, some drivers say the lack of safe rest areas for truckers force them to continue driving despite feeling tired and drowsy. Access to secure parking and rest areas were voted number two in research about truckers' challenges and concerns, with hours-of-service rules topping the list.

Whenever a California trucker dies in a traffic accident that was work related, the surviving family members have to deal with unanticipated financial consequences. The state-regulated workers' compensation insurance system provides death benefits to ease these hardships. The benefits typically include compensation to cover end-of-life expenses along with a financial package to make up for lost wages. The services of an experienced workers' compensation attorney can be sought to simplify the benefits claims process.

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