The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported last month that although fatalities per 100-million vehicle miles traveled remained unchanged last year at 1.6, truck-related fatalities continued to drop. According to the agency's 2000 Fatality Analysis Reporting Systems assessment, fatalities involving large trucks dropped by 3.1% over 1999, to 5,211.

Secretary Norman Mineta said that the overall number of highway deaths — 41,717 in 2000 — remains too high. He noted that 40% of all fatalities last year involved alcohol, up from 38% in 1999. That represents the first increase in alcohol-related deaths since 1990.

In addition, the report noted that 55% of passenger-car and light-truck occupants killed in 2000 were not wearing seatbelts. “Using proper restraints is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself because crashes do happen, even to the most careful driver,” said NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey Runge, M.D.