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News Briefs II

Government Officials Say Autos Cause Most Car-Truck Accidents

The washington post
Washington

Cars and large trucks crash into one another 300,000 times each year on U.S. roads, costing 5,000 lives, 130,000 injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. The conventional wisdom is that most of those crashes are caused by trucks.

But a group of government, industry and law enforcement officials said Monday that 70 percent of all fatal crashes involving cars and large trucks are caused by the drivers of passenger vehicles.

The most common error by motorists involved in these accidents is driving into large trucks' "no-zones." These dangerous areas include the blind spots in the rear and along the sides of trucks, and areas directly in front of trucks that often are entered by motorists who abruptly slow down.

Such accidents are tragic not only because of their cost in lives and injuries, but also because they are usually avoidable, said Kenneth R. Wykle, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration.

Administration Filling More Top Jobs in Government Agencies

The Washington Post
WASHINGTON

The Clinton administration was plagued throughout its first term by a chronic inability to fill top jobs in the government. Fewer than half had Clinton appointees in them at the end of his first year and some "Home Alone" departments - Defense and Commerce - were struggling to reach 40 percent filled.

This time, with four years' experience and a below-average turnover rate, the administration will end the first year of its second term with 78 percent of the senior jobs in Cabinet-level agencies filled. And there's a chance it will approach 85 percent occupancy shortly after Congress returns early next year.

Controversial nominees - former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld for Mexico or Bill Lann Lee to head the civil rights division at Justice - dominated recent headlines. But when the Senate adjourned earlier this month, Clinton appointees filled 289 of 372 executive branch jobs in the Cabinet-level agencies that require Senate confirmation (not including federal prosecutors, U.S. marshals and judges.)

The vacancy rates vary greatly among the agencies, although there's no single explanation for the disparities. Those tending to have the highest percentage of vacancies, such as the departments of Housing and Urban Development, Labor and Commerce, all had new agency heads this year.