NSC's Injury Facts 2017: 'Alarming Trends, Alarming Data'

Fatigue's safety impact at work and the industries most negatively affected by it are included in this annual report for the first time.

The National Safety Council's Injury Facts 2017 Edition is out, and it sheds new light on the impact of fatigue by industry. That's one of the new wrinkles in this edition, which also for the first time looks at preventable death rates by ethnic origin and race, correlations between recessions and motor vehicle deaths (deaths and death rates decline during them, it shows), as well as some encouraging early data (on page 119) from the Insurance Loss Data Institute on assistive vehicle technologies' impact on property damage and bodily injuries.

NSC said these issues were included for the first time in the 2017 edition "because of alarming trends" and some categories have been expanded this time – mortality numbers by mode of transportation, preventable deaths by state, rising teen driver deaths, etc. – "because of alarming data."

The edition's table on fatigue's impact (page 72) shows short sleep duration is most prevalent in transportation and warehousing, manufacturing, and health care, all of which are had a higher prevalence of it in 2004-2007 than the all-industry average, which was about 30 percent during that period.

"Concerningly, the prevalence of short sleep duration appears to be getting worse," it says. "In a combined sample from 1985 and 1990, only 24% of workers reported short sleep duration."

Meanwhile, according to an NSC report, states are lacking crucial data when it comes to determining the cause of roadway fatalities, as well. Crash reports from all 50 states don't have codes for law enforcement to record fatigue at the time of crash, while 26 states lack codes to capture texting and 32 states also lack fields to record hands-free cell phone usage; a separate set of 32 states are missing fields to identify specific drug types that could have been used, including marijuana.

All of this data comes from the NSC report "Underdcounted is Underinvested: How incomplete crash reports impact efforts to save lives." The report was released as part of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

"The road to zero deaths is paved with potholes," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "Someone is seriously injured on our roads every eight seconds; someone is killed every 15 minutes. In too many cases, we are gathering the 'what' but not the 'why,' and better data will enable us to make better decisions."

Other metrics that states are failing to capture include teen driver restrictions (35 states), the use of advanced driver assistance technologies (50 states), and infotainment systems (47 states).

As a result of the study, the NSC is calling on the traffic safety community to take actions that result in better data collection, including filling out crash reports electronically, updating forms more frequently to capture emerging issues, and more.