Activists seek tougher truck regulation


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More than 100 people a week are killed in large truck crashes in this country, according to safety groups that called Monday for reducing how long big-rig drivers can work without rest.

Wyoming, Arkansas and Oklahoma are the deadliest states for big truck crashes; Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut are the safest, according to The Truck Safety Coalition. It released state rankings, based on the number of fatalities per 100,000 residents during 2005, the most recent year with complete figures.

Created by Congress in 1999, the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration "has failed miserably," said Joan Claybrook, chair of Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways. "It is shortchanging safety for the productivity and economic interests of the trucking industry."

In 1999, when the agency was created, 5,380 people died in crashes with big trucks. "That figure has barely budged," Claybrook said at a news conference by the coalition of truck safety groups.

Deaths in crashes of large trucks numbered 5,212 in 2005, plus 114,000 injured. Large trucks account for 3 percent of registered vehicles but 12-13 percent of traffic fatalities.

Over a longer time frame, the motor carrier agency cited more favorable results.

"The truck fatality rate is 16 percent lower today than it was 10 years ago largely because we have invested millions of dollars working with the state and local law enforcement community to do more safety reviews and roadside inspections of trucks and buses than ever before," Administrator John Hill said.

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