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THOMAS J. DONOHUE, President and CEO, American Trucking Associations
Delivered before the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Truck and Bus Safety Summit, Kansas City, Missouri, March 13, 1995
I'm pleased to be here today to discuss the trucking industry's proven commitment to safety - past, present, and future. his topic is of vital interest to our industry, that is why much of this morning's plenary session is being beamed to 300 downlink sites across the country over our satellite communications network, TranSat. It's also being seen in California by a special meeting of the truckload carriers, the single largest component of ATA.
Any discussion of truck safety must begin with a recognition of the essentiality of our industry. That's because trucking is not an optional activity. Trucking drives our entire economy, our mobility, our way of life. We employ 7.8 million Americans in more than 322,000 companies. We move 75 percent of the total dollar value of the nation's goods. Our annual gross revenues exceeded $312 billion in 1993, approximately 5 percent of the gross domestic product. The vast majority of our companies are small businesses.
In other words, trucking is an industry made up of millions of hardworking Americans in big cities and small towns spanning the length and breadth of our country. I can guarantee you that we are every bit as concerned about the safety of the highways as any other American - probably more so. Don't forget that for the men and women of the trucking industry, the highways represent their livelihood, their workplace, and the focus of a lifetime of hard work and investment. Beyond that, we share the road with trucks just like everybody else - and so do our families.
What I'm saying is this: all Americans, whether they are part of trucking or not, have a shared stake in highway safety. All Americans, whether they drive cars or trucks, share a responsibility to make those highways safer. Unfortunately, the issue of highway safety has too often divided us, when it should unite us; finger-pointing has prevailed over problem solving; sensationalism has sometimes triumphed over reason and common sense. It's time to look at the highway safety equation in a different way.
We need to ask ourselves. some basic questions:
* What are the fundamental factors that play a role in highway safety? Let's identify them.
* Which of these factors can trucking influence to improve safety?
* And finally, are we prepared to step up to the plate to do our share, and will the others who play a role in the safety equation do their share?
Let me address the last question first from the perspective of the trucking industry. From 1983-1993 the tracking industry increased its miles driven 41 percent while at the same time it reduced the fatal accident rate 37 percent. Think of it - we' re not simply talking about reducing the accident rate …