Truck-related deaths drop in 2001

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Deaths in truck-related accidents fell for the fourth year in a row in 2001, but only by a small margin, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Fatalities involving large-truck crashes dropped from 5,211 in 2000 to 5,192 in 2001, said NHTSA in its preliminary analysis of traffic deaths in 2001. Truck-related deaths in 1999 were 5,380, and in 1998 the number was 5,395.

Joseph Clapp, head of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said he was encouraged by the reduction in truck-related deaths but the new figure was still “intolerable.”

Overall, highway deaths saw a similar drop in 2001, to 41,730 from 41,821 in 2000. Injuries dropped from 3.2 million in 2000 to 3 million in 2001.

At the same time, the preliminary fatality rate per 100 million vehicle miles was 1.5 in 2001, a “statistically insignificant” improvement compared to the final 2000 rate.

The 2001 statistics also showed that 60 percent of those who died in crashes last year were not wearing seat belts. The final 2001 report will be available in August.