The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) wants the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to abandon its proposed changes to hours-of-service (HOS) rules in light of highway fatality data released this week showing what the truck lobby terms a “significant” decline in truck-related crashes.

"We have said all along that the current rules are working,” said Gov. Bill Graves, ATA president & CEO, in a statement. “Now the Obama Administration's own data supports that belief."

“Since the agency [FMCSA] first changed the HOS rules in 2004, the truck-involved fatality rate has dropped by 36% – nearly twice as fast as the overall fatality rate on our highways – and that's not a coincidence,” he stressed. “The current rules are working.”

For 2009, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recorded 3,380 fatalities in 2,987 truck-involved crashes, down from 4,245 fatalities and 3,754 truck-involved crashes reported in 2008.

Furthermore, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has reported that trucks traveled more than 288 billion miles in 2009, down from 310.7 billion in 2008. That means the rate of truck-involved fatalities on U.S. highways fell to 1.17 per 100 million miles-- down from a rate of 1.37 in 2008 for a 14% drop.

“Trucking's critics point to the slumping economy as the main reason for the industry's safety gains, but DOT's own figures show that trucks are driving more miles than when these rules were established, and trucking is involved in far fewer crashes," said Dave Osiecki, ATA senior vp of policy & regulatory affairs.

“Advocates for change noisily asserted these rules would lead to increases in crashes and fatalities, but those dire, baseless predictions have not come true,” Osiecki added. “We are left to conclude that these rules are doing their job in helping to improve highway safety.”