Preliminary 2010 fatality and injury data shows that highway deaths fell to 32,885 for the year, the lowest level since 1949. The data also revealed that truck-related fatalities increased by nearly nine percent to 3,675.

The record-breaking decline in traffic fatalities occurred as American drivers traveled nearly 46 billion more miles during the year, an increase of 1.6 percent over the 2009 level.

"While we have more work to do to continue to protect American motorists, these numbers show we're making historic progress when it comes to improving safety on our nation's roadways," said U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood. "Thanks to the tireless work of our safety agencies and partner organizations over the past few decades, to save lives and reduce injuries, we're saving lives, reducing injuries, and building the foundation for what we hope will be even greater success in the future."

The updated information released by the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates 2010 also saw the lowest fatality rate ever recorded, with 1.10 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2010, down from 1.15 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled in 2009.

In light of the increase of truck-related fatalities, American Trucking Associations President and CEO Bill Graves urged policymakers to avoid jumping to conclusions based on figures released by the DOT.

"Every fatality on our highways is a tragedy, and the uptick in the 2010 preliminary report concerns us deeply. Without more information and analysis, though, it is difficult to draw conclusions about what this preliminary data means," Graves said. "We would hope that policymakers will avoid the 'error of recency,' by overemphasizing the newest data at the expense of the overall, long-term trend, which has been overwhelmingly positive. We look forward to seeing further analysis from DOT on crash types as well as how many miles American motorists and truck drivers traveled last year.

"Even with this increase, 2010 was the among the safest years on record for the trucking industry thanks in large part to the good faith efforts of America's truck drivers, vehicle manufacturers, truck fleet safety directors, law enforcement officers and true safety advocates, rather than due to economic hardship or other ancillary factors," Graves added. "By remaining vigilant and focused on the true causes of crashes, I'm confident that we will be able to continue the marked declines in the number of truck-involved crashes and fatalities on our highways that we have seen in over the past decade."

The full and complete data from DOT for the last decade shows improvement in overall highway safety, and clearly shows trucking's marked safety improvement.

According to statistics presented by ATA:

Over the past 10 years (1999 to 2009) the number of large trucks involved in:
- Fatal crashes dropped by 35%;
- Injury crashes dropped by 48%.

Over the past 10 years (1999 to 2009), the number of registered large trucks grew by more than 3 million, or 41%.

Over the past 10 years (1999 to 2009), the number of passenger vehicles involved in:
- Fatal crashes dropped by 24%, 11 percentage points lower than the change in the truck numbers;
-Injury crashes dropped by 29%, 19 percentage points lower than the change in the truck numbers.