The number of truck-involved traffic fatalities fell 20 percent in 2009, to the lowest level since the Department of Transportation started keeping records, while overall highway deaths fell to the lowest number since 1950.

Highway deaths fell to 33,808 for the year. The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred even while estimated vehicle miles traveled in 2009 increased by 0.2 percent over 2008 levels. In addition, 2009 saw the lowest fatality and injury rates ever recorded: 1.13 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009, compared to 1.26 deaths for 2008.

According to the latest Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and related NHTSA data, the number of truck occupant deaths fell 26 percent in 2009, from 682 in 2008 to 503 in 2009. The number of truck occupants injured in truck-related crashes also declined 26 percent. Those are the largest declines among all vehicle categories.

"This significant gain in commercial truck safety shows that ongoing enforcement efforts and our partnerships with state and local law enforcement are making a difference," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "Yet, FMCSA will not rest until there are zero commercial truck-related fatalities on our roads. We are committed to using every resource available to strengthen commercial truck safety and save lives."

American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves also released a statement emphasizing the group's commitment to highway safety. "ATA will continue to advance its progressive safety agenda in an effort to further this outstanding trend," he said.

ATA credited the hours of service regulations that were implemented in 2004 as contributing to the dramatic drops in crash rates. "Greater rest opportunities for drivers under the 2004 hours-of-service rules and a more circadian-friendly approach to a driver's work-rest cycle have helped truck drivers achieve these exceptional results," said Graves.