CVSA Releases 2020 Operation Safe Driver Week Results

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September 2, 2020

Law enforcement personnel observed 66,421 drivers engaging in unsafe driver behaviors on roadways and issued 71,343 warnings and citations as part of Operation Safe Driver Week, a driver-focused safety initiative aimed at curbing dangerous driver behaviors through interactions with law enforcement.

Operation Safe Driver Week, which took place July 12-18, 2020, was the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) first enforcement initiative of the year, as a result of the postponement or cancellation of other enforcement campaigns due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, despite the challenges associated with the pandemic, 3,681 enforcement officers from 55 Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions interacted with 29,921 commercial motor vehicle drivers and 36,500 passenger vehicle drivers during this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week.

Officers issued a total of 71,343 warnings and citations throughout the week, comprised of 42,857 traffic enforcement violations and 28,486 other state/local driver violations. Traffic enforcement violations include unsafe driving behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, following too closely, improper lane change, failure to wear a seatbelt, etc. State/local driver violations may include vehicle-related observations an officer may notice during a traffic stop, such as mirror equipment violations, expired license plate tags, inoperative lamps, etc.

Commercial motor vehicle drivers were issued 10,736 warnings and citations for traffic enforcement violations. That’s 4,659 citations and 6,077 warnings. Passenger vehicle drivers received 17,329 citations and 14,792 warnings for traffic enforcement violations, totaling 32,121 warnings and citations. Altogether, passenger vehicle drivers and commercial motor vehicle drivers received a total of 21,988 traffic enforcement citations and 20,869 warnings during 2020 Operation Safe Driver Week.

Speeding, which was the focus of this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, was the top traffic enforcement violation for both types of drivers. Passenger vehicle drivers received 14,378 citations and 11,456 warnings for speed-related offenses. Commercial motor vehicle drivers were issued 2,339 speed-related citations and 3,423 warnings.

Commercial Motor Vehicle Driver Results

Enforcement officials interacted with 29,921 commercial motor vehicle drivers during this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week. Commercial motor drivers received a total of 10,736 traffic enforcement warnings and citations. Broken out, that’s 6,077 warnings and 4,659 citations.

The top five traffic enforcement citations given to commercial motor vehicle drivers were:

  1. Speeding/violation of basic speed law/driving too fast for the conditions – 2,339
  2. Failure to use seat belt while operating commercial motor vehicle – 1,003
  3. Failure to obey traffic control device – 617
  4. Using a hand-held phone/texting – 269
  5. Improper lane change – 122

Speeding was the most cited traffic enforcement violation for commercial motor vehicle drivers. Those drivers received 3,423 warnings and 2,339 citations for speed-related offenses. That’s 56.33% of all warnings and 50.20% of all citations given to commercial motor vehicle drivers. In 2017, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32% of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes, compared to 54% of the passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes. “Speeding of Any Kind” was the most frequent driver-related factor for drivers of both vehicle types.

Failure to use seat belt while operating a commercial motor vehicle was the second most identified traffic enforcement offense, accounting for 12.51% of all warnings (760) and 21.53% (1,003) of all citations given to commercial motor vehicle drivers. Safety belt use remains one of the cheapest, easiest and most important means to protect commercial motor vehicle drivers. Federal regulations state that a commercial motor vehicle shall not be driven unless the driver is properly restrained with the seat belt. In 2017, 13% of large truck occupants in fatal crashes were not wearing a safety belt, of which 45% were killed in the crash. However, seat belt use among commercial motor vehicle drivers continues to improve, with the overall seat belt use rate for drivers of medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses at a record high of 86%.

Using a hand-held phone or texting accounted for 4.35% of all warnings and citations issued to commercial motor vehicle drivers, the fourth on the top violations list. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) restricts the use of all hand-held mobile devices by drivers of commercial motor vehicles. Research commissioned by FMCSA showed that the odds of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash, near-crash, unintentional lane deviation) are six times greater for commercial motor vehicle drivers who engage in dialing a mobile phone while driving than for those who do not. Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving a commercial motor vehicle can result in driver disqualification. Penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use a hand-held communications device while driving.

Passenger Vehicle Driver Results

Enforcement officials interacted with 36,500 passenger vehicle drivers during 2020 Operation Safe Driver Week. Passenger vehicle drivers were given 14,792 traffic enforcement warnings and issued 17,329 citations, for a total of 32,121 warnings and citations.

For passenger vehicles, the top five traffic enforcement citations issued to drivers were:

  1. Speeding/violation of basic speed law/driving too fast for the conditions – 14,378
  2. Failure to use seat belt – 932
  3. Possession/use/under influence of alcohol and/or drugs – 452
  4. Failure to obey traffic control device – 399
  5. Improper lane change – 273

Passenger vehicle drivers received 11,456 warnings and 14,378 citations for speed-related violations, accounting for 44.76% of all warnings and citations issued to passenger vehicle drivers. In 2018, speeding killed 9,378 people. Speeding increases the likelihood of being involved in a crash and the severity of injuries sustained by all road users in a crash. Most importantly, speeding is a driver behavior that is preventable. Contact with law enforcement personnel, such as during the Operation Safe Driver Week traffic enforcement safety initiative, is one way to change and deter dangerous driver behaviors, such as speeding.

Failure to wear a seat belt was the second most cited violation for passenger vehicle drivers, accounting for 2.92% (432) of all warnings and 5.38% (932) of all citations given to passenger vehicle drivers. As of 2019, the U.S. national seat belt use rate was 90.7%. Seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017.

Citations were issued to 452 passenger vehicle drivers for possession and/or being under influence of alcohol and/or drugs. Fifty-one were given warnings. Drunk-driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year. Every day, almost 30 people in the U.S. die in drunk-driving crashes – that’s one person gone every 50 minutes. And drug-impaired driving – illegal, prescribed or over the counter – is a growing problem as well. In 2016, 44% of drivers in fatal car crashes (with known results) tested positive for drugs. Both drunk and drugged driving can decrease a person’s reaction time, impair concentration and attention, and reduce hand-eye coordination.

Comparative Data

  • Passenger vehicle drivers received nearly three times as many warnings and citations (32,121) as commercial motor vehicle drivers (10,736 warnings and citations).
  • Speed-related offenses was the top traffic enforcement violation for both types of drivers; however, passenger vehicle drivers received 14,378 citations versus 2,339 citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers. Passenger vehicle drivers were cited for speeding more than six times as much as commercial motor vehicle drivers.
  • Although commercial motor vehicle drivers are prohibited from using a hand-held device while operating their vehicle, it was the fourth ranked traffic enforcement citation for commercial motor vehicle drivers (269 citations) versus ranking 12th for passenger vehicle drivers (58 citations).
  • Failure to wear a seatbelt accounted for 4.25% of the total number of passenger vehicle driver warnings and citations (1,364) versus 16.42% of the total number of commercial motor vehicle driver warnings and citations (1,763).
  • Although this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week occurred during a pandemic, there was a difference of less than 700 contacts made between law enforcement and commercial motor vehicle drivers compared to last year – 29,921 contacts in July 2020 versus 30,619 in July 2019. However, there was a larger discrepancy between 2020 and 2019 for interactions between law enforcement and passenger vehicle drivers. In 2019, 70,321 contacts were made compared to 36,500 in 2020. That’s almost half as many contacts this year compared to last year.
  • Passenger vehicle drivers were given 14,792 warnings; commercial motor vehicle drivers received 6,077.
  • Passenger vehicle drivers received 17,329 citations; commercial motor vehicle drivers were issued 4,659.

“Although CVSA is a commercial motor vehicle safety organization, it was important that passenger vehicle drivers were also involved in this annual week-long driver safety enforcement initiative,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “When commercial motor vehicles and passenger vehicles collide, no matter who was at fault, the results can be catastrophic, especially for the smaller and lighter passenger vehicle. Preventing crashes from happening requires every driver – commercial and personal – to be aware of how to safely share the road with other types of vehicles.”

In addition to traffic enforcement, 2,605 motorists were assisted during Operation Safe Driver Week, highlighting law enforcement’s commitment to public service and roadway safety. Motorist assistance from officers may include services such as help fixing a flat tire, providing gasoline for a stranded vehicle, checking on someone who may be pulled over, assisting individuals in distress or experiencing a medical emergency, jump-starting a vehicle, traffic control, etc.

The percentage of crashes involving some type of driver-related behavior is estimated at 94%. CVSA – in partnership with the federal government, the law enforcement community and the motor carrier industry – launched the Operation Safe Driver Program to reduce the number of deaths and injuries resulting from dangerous driving behaviors. View previous years’ Operation Safe Driver Week results.