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Report: Truck driving one of the deadliest jobs in the U.S.

New study also finds pay remains low for “hazardous” jobs.

A new study indicates that driving a commercial truck remains one of the deadliest jobs in the U.S., with transportation workers as a group at the highest risk of death on job, according to research by job search engine Adzuna.

The firm analyzed 2016 worker fatality data compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) not only to identify jobs with the highest death risk but also to find out whether the pay makes them worth the danger.

BLS data indicated that “driving” is the deadliest profession in the U.S.; a category that includes travelling sales jobs and truck drivers. In 2016, there were 918 fatalities from driving occupations, the agency noted. The second most-dangerous job according to that 2016 data is farming, with 260 deaths, followed by grounds maintenance at 217 fatalities, Adzuna noted.

Deadliest professions in the U.S. 


2016 Fatalities

Driver/Sales Worker and Truck Drivers




Grounds Maintenance Workers


Construction Workers






Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers


Refuse and Recyclable Material Collectors


Fishing Workers


Looking at the lethal dangers posed to workers in those industries, Adzuna’s analysis concluded that transportation is the most common cause of fatality, responsible for 2,083 deaths in 2016. The second biggest danger to workers is violence by people or animals, the cause of 866 deaths in 2016 and a major risk for those working in agriculture. This is followed by falling/slipping/tripping (849), contact with equipment (761) and exposure to harmful substances (518).

Adzuna’s analysis also concluded that the risk of working in a hazardous environment does not always filter down to worker pay scales.

Reported salaries for grounds maintenance workers, for example, are just $29,170 per year, the lowest pay of all risky positions analyzed, while salaries for refuse collectors, who face the additional risk of falling material, average just $37,690.

Risk versus reward: average salaries in dangerous jobs 


Average advertised salary

Food Preparation Workers


Retail Workers




Grounds Maintenance Workers


Fishing Workers


Production Workers


Refuse and Recyclable Material Collector








According to a recent study by employee recruitment firm CareerCast, the average annual salary for truck drivers now hovers around $41,430.

Overall, excluding aircraft pilots, the most dangerous jobs earn an average of $46,435 per year or just $2,287 more than current average earnings of $44,148 across all U.S. professions, noted Doug Monro, co-founder of Adzuna.

“Workers hoping for a cash bonus for taking on risky roles are in for a disappointment. The premium for working in hazardous conditions is often low, or non-existent,” he said in a statement. “As the job market is tightening as unemployment levels fall to their lowest level since 2000, workers can choose to be fussier and demand more cash to compensate for dangerous roles. We say, if you’re willing to put up with perilous jobs, demand the ‘danger money.’”

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