During the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) Operation Safe Driver Week, July 14-20, 2019, commercial vehicle enforcement personnel in Canada and the United States took to North America’s roadways to identify drivers engaging in unsafe driving behaviors and issue citations and/or warnings. Officers issued 46,752 citations and 87,624 warnings to drivers for traffic enforcement violations, ranging from speeding to failure to wear a seatbelt.
Drivers’ actions contribute to 94% of all traffic crashes. The Operation Safe Driver Week enforcement initiative is the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) law enforcement community’s response to this transportation safety issue. Through traffic safety initiatives, such as Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement personnel aim to deter negative driver behaviors and reduce the number of crashes involving large trucks, motorcoaches and passenger vehicles by identifying and citing drivers exhibiting risky driving behaviors and tendencies.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, speeding has been a factor in more than a quarter of crash deaths since 2008. In response to this alarming trend, CVSA selected speeding as the emphasis area for this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week. Speeding/violations of the basic speed law/driving too fast for conditions was the most cited violation this year with 17,556 total citations. Passenger vehicle drivers were issued 16,102 citations and 21,001 warnings, and CMV drivers received 1,454 citations and 2,126 warnings.
As part of this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement agencies and motor carriers throughout North America promoted and supported the following message, Late won’t kill you, speeding will, by distributing postcards provided by CVSA. Motor carriers and law enforcement distributed nearly 12,000 postcards in the weeks leading up to Operation Safe Driver Week.
The top 10 driver-behavior citations (and warnings) given to CMV drivers were as follows:
|1||Speeding/violation of basic speed law/driving too fast for the conditions||1,454||2,126|
|2||Failure to wear a seatbelt||954||586|
|3||Failure to obey a traffic control device||426||871|
|4||Using a handheld phone/texting||249||170|
|5||Improper lane change||92||194|
|6||Following too closely||57||143|
|7||Possession/use/under influence of alcohol and/or drugs||55||18|
|9||Inattentive, careless and/or reckless driving||32||55|
|10||Operating CMV while ill or fatigued||25||45|
The top 10 driver-behavior citations (and warnings) given to passenger vehicle drivers were as follows:
|PASSENGER VEHICLE DRIVERS|
|1||Speeding/violation of basic speed law/driving too fast for the conditions||16,102||21,001|
|2||Failure to wear a seatbelt||1,794||773|
|3||Failure to obey traffic control device||540||1,063|
|4||Inattentive, careless and/or reckless driving||517||484|
|5||Possession/use/under influence of alcohol and/or drugs||503||2|
|6||Using a handheld phone/texting||416||400|
|7||Improper lane change||352||1,226|
|8||Failure to yield right of way||297||198|
|10||Following too closely||188||853|
Failure to wear a seatbelt was the second highest violation for both types of drivers – CMV and passenger vehicle. 954 CMV drivers and 1,794 passenger vehicle drivers received citations for not wearing a seatbelt. Buckling up is the single most effective thing vehicle drivers and passengers can do to protect themselves in the event of a crash. The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) 2016 Safety Belt Usage by Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers Survey found that seatbelt usage among CMV drivers was 86.1%. Among passenger vehicle drivers, the national seatbelt use rate was 89.6% in 2018. In Canada, 95% of vehicle occupants wear seatbelts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, short-term, high-visibility enforcement, such as CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week, combined with media coverage, is particularly effective for reaching people who typically don’t use seat belts regularly.
Drunk driving crashes claim nearly 11,000 lives per year and NHTSA’s National Roadside Survey found that 20% of surveyed drivers tested positive for potentially impairing drugs. During all roadside interactions with the public, law enforcement personnel are trained to look for evidence of driver impairment by alcohol or drugs – legal or illegal. During this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, 33 CMV drivers were cited for possession/use/under influence of drugs; 22 received citations for possession/use/under influence of alcohol. 159 passenger vehicle drivers were cited for possession/use/under influence of drugs and 344 were cited for possession/use/under influence of alcohol. Possession/use/under influence of alcohol and/or drugs was the fifth most cited violation for passenger vehicle drivers (503). It was the seventh most cited violation for CMV drivers (55).
In 2017, there were 3,166 distraction-related fatal crashes in the U.S. and distracted driving contributed to an estimated 21% of fatal collisions in Canada in 2016. Distractions include anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road, such as talking or texting on a cellphone, eating, talking with passengers, adjusting vehicle or navigations controls, etc. During Operation Safe Driver Week, 249 citations and 170 warnings were given to CMV drivers for using a handheld phone/texting while operating the vehicle; 416 citations and 400 warnings were given to passenger vehicle drivers.
“Although CVSA is an organization focused on commercial motor vehicle safety, we know that if we want to prevent crashes involving commercial motor vehicles and passenger vehicles, it’s important that we focus on both types of vehicles and drivers,” said CVSA President Chief Jay Thompson with the Arkansas Highway Police. “Operation Safe Driver Week is our effort to focus on driver behaviors, the leading cause of crashes. We hope that contact with law enforcement during this traffic safety initiative helps to combat dangerous driver behaviors in the future, ultimately making our roadways safer.”
While Operation Safe Driver Week is an enforcement operation focused on driver behaviors, during a traffic stop, an officer may notice and issue citations or warnings for vehicle-related issues. Such violations are noted as state/local driver violations on law enforcement’s reporting documentation. During this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, passenger vehicle drivers received 16,050 state/local driver citations and 29,145 warnings, and CMV drivers received state/local driver 6,170 citations and 27,163 warnings. Examples of state/local driver violations include vehicle-related observations, such as mirror equipment violations, expired license plate tags, non-working lamps, etc.
Operation Safe Driver Week is sponsored by CVSA, in partnership with FMCSA and with support from industry and transportation safety organizations. The initiative aims to help improve the behavior of all drivers operating in an unsafe manner – either in or around commercial motor vehicles – through educational and traffic enforcement strategies to address individuals exhibiting high-risk driving behaviors.