Surveillance of traffic incident management–related occupational fatalities in Kentucky, 2005–2016

T. L. Bunn, S. Slavova, M. Chandler, N. Hanner, M. Singleton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Traffic incidents occurring on roadways require the coordinated effort of multiple responder and recovery entities, including communications, law enforcement, fire and rescue, emergency medical services, hazardous materials, transportation agencies, and towing and recovery. The objectives of this study were to (1) identify and characterize transportation incident management (TIM)-related occupational fatalities; (2) assess concordance of surveillance data sources in identifying TIM occupations, driver vs. pedestrian status, and occupational fatality incident location; and (3) determine and compare U.S. occupational fatality rates for TIM industries. Methods: The Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) program analyzed 2005–2016 TIM occupational fatality data using multiple data sources: death certificate data, Collision Report Analysis for Safer Highways (CRASH) data, and media reports, among others. Literal text analysis was performed on FACE data, and a multiple linear regression model and SAS proc sgpanel were used to estimate and visualize the U.S. TIM occupational mortality trend lines and confidence bounds. Results: There were 29 TIM fatalities from 2005 to 2015 in Kentucky; 41% of decedents were in the police protection occupation, and 21% each were in the fire protection and motor vehicle towing industries. Over one half of the TIM decedents were performing work activities as pedestrians when they died. Media reports identified the majority of the occupational fatalities as TIM related (28 of 29 TIM-related deaths); the use of death certificates as the sole surveillance data source only identified 17 of the 29 deaths as TIM related, and the use of CRASH data only identified 4 of the 29 deaths as TIM related. Injury scenario text analysis showed that law enforcement vehicle pursuit, towing and recovery vehicle loading, and disabled vehicle response were particular high-risk activities that led to TIM deaths. Using U.S. data, the motor vehicle towing industry had a significantly higher risk for occupational mortality compared to the fire protection and police protection industries. Conclusions: Multiple data sources are needed to comprehensively identify TIM fatalities and to examine the circumstances surrounding TIM fatalities, because no one data source in itself was adequate and undercounted the total number of TIM fatalities. The motor vehicle towing industry, in particular, is at elevated risk for occupational mortality, and targeted mandatory TIM training for the motor vehicle towing industry should be considered. In addition, enhanced law enforcement roadside safety training during vehicle pursuit and apprehension of suspects is recommended.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)446-453
Number of pages8
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 19 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Traffic incident
  • fire protection
  • motor vehicle towing
  • occupational fatality rate
  • pedestrian
  • police protection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Surveillance of traffic incident management–related occupational fatalities in Kentucky, 2005–2016'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this