The number of fatalities related to heavy truck crashes dropped nearly 2% from 1997 to 1998. The trucking industry is hailing the statistic, released as Congress is searching for ways to make trucking safer after fatalities increased slightly the year before.

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.