U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 16, 2002
Contact: Dave Longo
U.S. Transportation Secretary Mineta
Applauds Contributions of Truck Drivers
U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today recognized the safety, security and economic contributions of America's truck drivers, who will celebrate the 2002 National Truck Driver Appreciation Week from Aug. 18-24.
"The trucking industry is an essential component of our American economy, and we greatly appreciate the hard work and the important contributions of the 10 million men and women who work in the industry," said Secretary Mineta.
Americans and the American economy benefit from the imports, exports and domestic cargo shipped by truck every day, such as electronic equipment, shoes and clothing, agricultural goods, petroleum products, plastics and machine parts. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Bureau of Transportation Statistics, trucks carry 60 percent of the nation's domestic freight as measured by weight and 62 percent as measured by value. The trucking industry's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product is more than $260 billion, including both for-hire and private trucking.
In 2001, the trucking industry set the best safety record since the first recorded statistics in 1975. Fatalities in crashes involving large trucks dropped from 5,282 in 2000 to 5,082 in 2001, a 3.8 percent decrease despite a rise in the total number of people killed in highway crashes in 2001 compared with 2000.
"We hope to see even greater progress in safety for 2002 and the years ahead. We are working with the industry - labor, owners, and manufacturers to help reduce the number of truck-related crashes and fatalities," Secretary Mineta said. "I am also grateful that the trucking industry has been assisting in efforts to enhance our nation's security following the September 11th terrorist attacks. Through its anti-terrorism action plan, a potential 3 million professional truck drivers will become 'America's trucking army,' trained to recognize and report suspicious activity that may adversely affect national security."
The anti-terrorism plan is an expansion of the Highway Watch program in which professional truck drivers are enlisted to report incidents that threaten highway safety. The Highway Watch program is administered by the American Trucking Associations in partnership with the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). FMCSA's initial financial commitment to the program this year is $775,000.
# # #