The number of deaths related to transportation was reduced by almost 10 percent in 2008 compared to 2007, with fatalities from crashes involving medium and heavy trucks falling nearly 16 percent. This is the third year in a row that transportation deaths have decreased. That was among the preliminary figures released recently by the National Transportation Safety Board. The Board reported that overall, transportation fatalities in the U.S. were 39,397 in 2008, down from 43,384 in 2007. Highway deaths, which account for more than 94 percent of all transportation deaths, decreased from 41,259 in 2007 to 37,261 in 2008. The number of medium and heavy truck fatalities fell from 805 to 677 in 2008. Some of these improved statistics can be credited to the continuing safety improvements made to vehicles. Some can be attributed to fleets hiring safe, professional drivers and doing continual driver training. I maintain the reduction in transportation related injuries and deaths is also due to regular and effective preventive maintenance and proper vehicle service and repair. I say this because superior preventive maintenance and vehicle service and repair help to keep equipment operating safely. That can substantially reduce accidents caused by brake, tire, steering and other mechanical failures. There are other benefits as well, with reliably and efficiently topping the list. Effective vehicle maintenance and proper service and repair minimizes work schedule interruptions and keeps equipment working as much as possible, and at maximum efficiency. There’s also improved driver morale. Drivers tend to take pride in equipment that is kept in top operating condition. They are more likely to drive safely and take better care of their vehicles. And let’s not forget the public relations element. Vehicles are traveling billboards that represent a company. How does it look when one of its vehicles is broken down alongside the road, on the end of a wrecker or involved in an accident? There is a national appreciation week for truck drivers, teachers, animal control officers, public assistance workers, students, national code enforcement officers, animal shelters, child nutrition employees, and the list goes on. Perhaps it is time for a nationwide pat on the back to America’s vehicle service professionals to acknowledge their contributions toward highway safety. I welcome your thoughts and comments.