The number of fatalities dropped 1.8%, from 5,398 in 1997 to an estimated 5,302 in 1998, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation — 96 fewer deaths. This happened even as the number of truck miles traveled has increased as much as 15%, according to the American Trucking Assns.
Hailing the statistics as great news, ATA president and CEO Walter McCormick said, "Safety must be the industry's No. 1 priority, and we have worked hard to make the roads safer."
McCormick believes when the 1998 fatality rate, based on vehicle miles traveled, is announced by DOT, that number will show a dramatic decrease, as well.
One of the main reasons for the recent flurry of activity regarding truck safety on Capitol Hill was the fact that the number of truck-related fatalities went up in 1997, even though the fatality rate went down.