A historic drop in the large truck fatal crash rate is an indication that industry-wide safety education and outreach programs are making their mark, according to the American Trucking Assns.

According to figures obtained from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the 1998 large truck fatal crash rate is 2.33 per 100 million miles, the lowest rate ever recorded. It marks an 8.3 % drop from 1997, when the industry recorded a rate of 2.54 fatal crashes per 100 million miles. The new rate is the biggest single-year decrease since 1991.
"This is great news for all motorists and for our motor carriers," said Walter B. McCormick Jr., ATA President and CEO. "Safety is the number one priority of our industry, and we have worked hard to keep these numbers going on a downward trend. This success is motivation to all of us to work even harder. We can never be satisfied when it comes to saving lives on our highways."
The DOT figures, to be published later this year, indicate that the 8.6% decline in the 1998 large truck fatal crash rate is more than double the decrease for all vehicles (3.4%). Further, the actual number of fatal truck crashes in 1998 is more than 6% lower than 1997.
ATA officials cited other industry efforts as also having a positive impact in lowering the rate of large truck fatal crashes. They include working toward a stronger Commercial Driver's License program, support for increased roadside inspections, and targeting of high-risk carriers. "A new federal Motor Carrier Administration will help us target our highway safety efforts even more productively," McCormick said.
"Our professional truck drivers also deserve a great deal of credit," McCormick added. "The highway is their workplace. They wouldn't have it any way but safe for themselves, their families, and everyone else sharing the road."