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Nearly 500 first responders, road workers fatally stuck by distracted drivers since 2020

Data shows Oregon has the highest rate of death per 100,000 people


Alexandre Boucher/Unsplash

By Bill Carey

Highlighting the severe risks of distracted driving can increase awareness and potentially save lives. used data from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), fatality reports from, and surveys from the Associated General Contractors of America to study workplace vehicle-related fatalities.

Between 2020 and February 2024, 487 workers died from vehicle strikes while on the job. Annually from 2020 to 2023, an average of 122 workers were killed by cars, with a peak of 150 deaths in 2021.’s key findings:

  • Approximately 487 workers have been struck and killed by cars since 2020. Many were tow truck operators, construction workers and law enforcement officers.
  • In the first two months of 2024, 10 first responders were hit and killed by cars.
  • The top three situations in which first responders were hit and killed by cars were responding to a disabled vehicle, responding to a crash scene, or simply directing traffic.
  • 58% of contractors felt that the risk of highway work zone crashes increased year over year, mostly due to cell phone usage.
  • In 2023, nearly 1 in 10 workplace fatalities tracked by OSHA were due to vehicle strikes.

Fatal car crashes near road construction zones increased by 63% from 2010 to 2021. While the number of workers killed by vehicle strikes declined from 2022 to 2023, they consistently accounted for about 8% of all workplace fatalities recorded by OSHA each year.

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The 2022 Work Zone Awareness Survey by Heavy Construction Systems Specialists (HCSS) and the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America revealed that 64% of contractors experienced one or more work zone crashes from 2021 to 2022. Additionally, 58% of workers felt that the risk of highway work zone crashes increased in 2022 compared to the previous year.

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The top five incidents where first responders were fatally struck by vehicles from 2020 onward include responding to disabled vehicles, crash scenes, directing traffic, conducting traffic stops and vehicular assaults.

These incidents are leading causes of death for maintenance workers, EMTs, police and recovery specialists, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation. Vehicular assault, involving using a vehicle to harm someone, also ranks in the top five, with penalties varying by state from fines and jail time to felony charges.

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From 2020 to 2023, Oregon had the highest rate of worker fatalities from vehicle strikes relative to its population, at 0.4 deaths per 100,000 residents. During the same period, Texas recorded the highest total number of such fatalities, with 44% of the 50 workers killed being first responders and 16% law enforcement officers. Larger states generally saw more deaths from vehicle strikes, while Vermont reported none.