By Dave Osiecki, President of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting LLC, and Safety Consultant to PeopleNet
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual week-long traffic safety event will occur from July 15-21, 2018 throughout North America, and carrier safety staff should communicate with and educate drivers on the purpose of this event, and how it differs from the annual “Roadcheck” held in early June 2018.
Operation Safe Driver Week is different from the annual Roadcheck inspection blitz in two fundamental and important ways. First, Operation Safe Driver Week is a traffic safety educational and enforcement effort focused on unsafe driving behaviors, and not on the safety of the truck and its many mechanical components. Second, and importantly, the law enforcement agencies involved in Operation Safe Driver Week are looking for high risk driving behaviors of passenger vehicle drivers as well as professional CMV drivers. Examples of high risk driving behaviors enforcement personnel will focus on include speeding, distracted driving, texting while driving, following too closely, improper lane changes, failing to use a seat belt, and failure to obey traffic control devices. Several years ago, CVSA recognized that unsafe driving behaviors of both non-commercial and commercial drivers are the leading cause of serious crashes and expanded their safety efforts to include this broad, traffic safety event. From the trucking industry’s perspective, a welcome expansion indeed.
As you communicate your ongoing safety messages, and prepare your drivers for this week-long traffic safety event, it may be helpful to share citation data along with the most commonly seen and cited behaviors during last year’s Operation Safe Driver Week. In 2017, more than 38,000 citations/warnings were issued to CMV drivers, and the top five unsafe behaviors of CMV drivers were:
- State/Local Moving Violations (characterized by CVSA as moving violations written up under State code, including following too closely, unsafe lane changes, reckless/dangerous driving ) – 2% of Warning/Citations –
- Speeding – 7.4%
- Failure to Use Seat Belt – 2.6%
- Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device – 2.5%
- Using a Handheld Phone – 0.8%
Given the traffic safety nature of this Operation Safe Driver event, truck drivers found to be operating unsafely will typically be pulled over on the shoulder of the road/highway. These shoulder locations can often be a tricky location/environment for both drivers and police officers, and drivers should stay in their truck waiting for the officer to approach their vehicle. Drivers should also be aware of the need for officers to see their hands as they approach and, as such, it’s usually a good idea for drivers to keep their hands on the wheel. Digging around the truck cab for paperwork, insurance documents and a billfold containing a CDL is not a good idea as the officer is approaching.
Professionalism and a respectful attitude toward the law enforcement officer can also go a long way to making the traffic stop a smoother event for the driver. As frustrating as a traffic stop can be, drivers should be reminded that police officers are doing an important job–promoting highway safety for everyone involved, including them. Of course, it’s far better for drivers to avoid the stop in the first place by operating safely and consistent with the traffic laws of the State in which they are operating.