This month, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance announced that its 2020 Operation Safe Driver Week would take place as scheduled–from July 12th to July 18th.
The CVSA did in fact postpone the International Roadcheck Inspection Campaign indefinitely, which was scheduled to occur from May 5th to May 7th, due to COVID-19 challenges, but said it has no plans to reschedule other safety enforcement efforts happening during the summer of 2020.
Additionally, Brake Safety Week is scheduled to go on as planned from August 23rd to the 29th.
During the weeklong initiative in July, law enforcement across the country will be on the lookout for any drivers operating vehicles in unsafe manners. 2020’s Safe Driver Week will have a focus on speeding, but any drivers showing unsafe driving will be pulled over by law enforcement personnel and potentially given a citation.
CVSA explained that speeding has become a much more prominent issue on the nation’s roadways over the past few months because roads have been so much clearer due to stay-at-home orders in place in response to COVID-19.
“It’s essential that this enforcement initiative, which focuses on identifying and deterring unsafe driving behaviors, such as speed, [goes] on as scheduled,” said Delaware State Police’s Sgt. John Samis, who is also president of CVSA. “As passenger vehicle drivers are limiting their travel to necessary trips and many commercial motor vehicle drivers are busy transporting vital goods to stores, it’s more important than ever to monitor our roadways for safe transport.”
Law enforcement will also be paying extra attention to other dangerous behaviors, including distracted driving, following too closely, reckless or aggressive driving, improper lane change, evidence of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, failure to use a seat belt, and failure to obey traffic control devices.
“According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, less traffic may be encouraging some drivers to ignore traffic safety laws, including speed limits,” said CVSA on its website. “Despite there being far fewer vehicles on the road due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, many jurisdictions are seeing a severe spike in speeding.”
CVSA explained that although the number of vehicles on the road decreased significantly throughout March and April, there was a sharp increase in average speeds measured during the first week of April in the largest metropolitan areas of the country. Recent data show average speeds in those areas increased by 75% in comparison to January and February.
New York City transportation officials reported a 60% increase in the number of March’s speed camera tickets compared to the same month in 2019–even though the amount of traffic during this time was down 90% in comparison to January.
Washington, D.C.’s traffic decreased by 80% between January and March, but officials still reported a 20% increase in speeding tickets during the month of March. The number of citations for driving 21 to 25 miles per hour over the speed limit rose by almost 40%.
In California, officials saw an increase in speeding violations and in crash severity, even though the California Highway Patrol’s overall call volume has decreased.
Tucson Police saw an increase of 40% in single-vehicle wrecks–which typically occur when a driver loses control due to excessive speed.
Other countries are experiencing similar issues. In Toronto, Ontario, Canada, police charged 18 different drivers with stunt driving at speeds between 80 and 106 miles per hour on the Don Valley Parkway, a freeway with a limit of 55 miles per hour, in just one weekend.
During the Operation Safe Driver Week of 2019, law enforcement issued 46,752 citations to passenger vehicle and commercial vehicle drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Traffic Safety Facts report’s data from 2018 showed an increase in the number of fatal large truck-related crashes by 0.9%. On a positive note, the NHTSA also found a 2.4% decrease in overall fatalities.
“While, of course, we’re pleased to see a decrease in the overall number of fatalities, it was also devastating to learn that the number of fatalities involving large trucks increased,” Samis said. “Any increase whatsoever in roadway fatalities is unacceptable.”
The CVSA said it will continue to pay close attention to the circumstances around this pandemic and will announce the new dates for the International Roadcheck as soon as possible, and will update the status for Operation Safe Driver Week and Brake Safety Week if needed.