During the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Operation Safe Driver Week safety initiative, law enforcement across North America stopped 46,058 drivers in both passenger and commercial motor vehicles who were driving dangerously, according to recently-released results.
During the July 2021 event, police officers stopped 17,910 passenger vehicles and 28,148 commercial motor vehicles and issued 16,863 citations and 10,486 warnings. Speeding was this year’s top overall violation, and was also the priority for the Safe Driver Week itself.
“Officers issued 11,039 citations and 5,478 warnings for speeding/basic speed law/driving too fast for conditions,” said CVSA in a tweet when initiative results were announced. Of these speeding violations, passenger vehicle drivers received 9,349 citations and 2,929 of warnings; commercial drivers received 1,690 citations and 2,549 warnings.
This amount of speeding violations by truck drivers, specifically, is unacceptable if we want any peace of mind on American roadways, explained Levinson and Stefani’s Ken Levinson.
“Companies need to police their own drivers,” he said. “They can’t and they shouldn’t put unrealistic expectations on their professional drivers to get to a dropoff or pickup location without violating safety rules. It’s clear and obvious that companies that are unsafe and have only major profit motives skirt around safety rules and force their drivers into situations where, in order for them to get to a location on time, they have to speed.”
94% of car crashes are caused by driver behavior, according to the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration. Additionally, the majority of deaths in crashes involving large trucks include the occupants of the passenger vehicle involved (which make up about 71% of these deaths) versus the occupants of the truck involved (which make up about 18% of these deaths).
“We have to make sure that doesn’t happen, whether we’re policing the companies, policing the actual drivers, or really enforcing these safety measures–because the consequences are just too great,” said Levinson.
For passenger vehicle drivers stopped during the weeklong safety initiative, the top violations were: speeding, with 9,349 citations; failure to wear a seat belt, with 1,355 citations; distracted driving using a handheld phone, with 573 citations; possession, use, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs, with 428 citations; and failure to obey a traffic control device, with 336 citations.
For the commercial motor vehicle drivers that were stopped, the top five violations were: speeding, with 1,690 citations; failure to wear a seat belt, with 1,225 citations; failure to obey a traffic control device, with 522 citations; texting with a handheld phone, with 344 citations; and improper lane change, with 112 citations.
“It’s incumbent upon drivers to be as defensive as possible,” noted Levinson. “These trucks are very heavy and dangerous, and oftentimes a trucker may be pressured to drive more quickly to make their hours or they may not be as alert as they should be–so we all must be as defensive as possible.”
Sometimes, passenger drivers may have too much trust in the drivers around them–which can be especially dangerous when driving near large commercial vehicles, Levinson added.
“It’s not always realistic to avoid incidents with these big trucks because they often do things that are beyond our control to avoid,” he said. “Just be very aware that these trucks are dangerous and use extreme caution.”
Even though overall miles traveled numbers fell during the pandemic, traffic fatalities increased by 10.5% in 2021’s first quarter, according to NHTSA.
“When you’re behind the wheel, watch your speed, and never drive distracted,” said the agency in a tweet.
Alongside the initiatives during Operation Safe Driver Week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration conducted its own investigative event to target motor carriers with a history of unsafe driving behavior and crash incidents.
“Since we know that most crashes are caused by drivers,” said President of CVSA, Captain John Broers, “The best way to prevent crashes is to start with the cause–drivers.”