Panel to focus on deadly truck, bus accidents

By JOAN LOWY | May 10, 2011 | 3:14 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Transportation Safety Board begins a two-day forum Tuesday to hear from regulators, safety experts, and the truck and bus industries about what is being done to prevent deadly traffic accidents and why past safety recommendations — some of them decades old — haven't been fulfilled.

Fatalities in accidents involving big trucks have dropped significantly, from over 5,200 deaths in 2005 to about 3,200 deaths in 2009, but so have other types of highway fatalities, a trend many safety experts attribute to a decline in driving as a result of a weak economy. The concern is that fatalities may increase as the economy revives.

The Obama administration has proposed reducing the daily limit on hours drivers may spend behind the wheel from 11 hours to 10 hours.