Safe Driver Week 2017 yields nearly 39,000 citations, but why?

A policeman writes a report at the scene of a trucking accident. (Shutterstock)

Last week, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) released the results of the annual Operation Safe Driver Week, which took place between Oct. 15-21. The jaw-dropping headlines emerged on several media sites: “Truckers receive nearly 39,000 citations during safe driver week.” 

The results sounded alarming, especially when compared with the 2016 results of 20,648 total citations or warnings issued throughout the United States and Canada. Was it some new point of emphasis in regulation? Are truckers really nearly twice as out of control as they were just last year?

Freightwaves reached out to CVSA to make sense of the numbers. “The participating jurisdictions expanded this year, with several large states volunteering for the first time. This year 40 states participated, including portions of Canada,” says Will Schaefer, Director of Safety Programs. 

The general results of 2017 are actually similar on average to those of previous years.

How does the program work?

Through high-visibility, as well as covert driver traffic enforcement initiatives, in addition to driver education and outreach activities, law enforcement agencies capitalize on the opportunity the weeklong campaign provided to continue their work toward making sure the drivers on our nations’ roadways are sharing and navigating those roadways safely.

What’s the point of the initiative?

Operation Safe Driver is a CVSA program aimed at reducing deaths and injuries involving large trucks, buses and cars due to unsafe driver behaviors. The Alliance intends to accomplish this goal by educating both commercial motor vehicle drivers and youth drivers about ways to share the roads safely. The point is to raise awareness.

Operation Safe Driver holds activities across the United States, Canada and Mexico to increase commercial vehicle and non-commercial vehicle traffic enforcement, safety belt enforcement, and driver roadside inspections; improve driver regulatory compliance; implement commercial driver educational and awareness programs to the motor carrier population; educate youth about safely sharing the roads with large trucks and buses; and increase awareness to the general motoring public about safe operations around commercial motor vehicles.

Who exactly is the CVSA?

CVSA, in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), state, provincial and local law enforcement, and industry, launched the Operation Safe Driver campaign in 2007 to reduce the number of deaths and injuries resulting from crashes involving large trucks, buses and cars.

Enforcement personnel issued 59,193 warnings and citations to commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and passenger vehicle drivers for unsafe driving behaviors on our roadways.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute, 3,852 people died in large truck crashes in 2015. Sixteen percent of those deaths were truck occupants, 69 percent were occupants of passenger vehicles. Many of those crashes were the direct result of driver behavior.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “Large Truck Crash Causation Study” cites driver behavior as the critical reason for more than 88 percent of large truck crashes and 93 percent of passenger vehicle crashes.

The collected 2017 data

During Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement agencies throughout the United States and Canada increased roadway traffic safety enforcement and education to address dangerous driving behaviors by CMV drivers and passenger vehicle drivers.

The top five warnings/citations issued to CMV drivers were:

·      State/Local Moving Violations – 84.2 percent (of warnings/citations)

·      Speeding – 7.4 percent

·      Failure to Use Seat Belt – 2.6 percent

·      Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device – 2.5 percent

·      Using a Handheld Phone – 0.8 percent

The top five warnings/citations issued to passenger vehicle drivers were:

·      Speeding – 43.5 percent (of warnings/citations)

·      State/Local Moving Violations – 36.2 percent

·      Failure to Use Seat Belt – 9.4 percent

·      Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device – 2.3 percent

·      Improper Lane Change – 1.5 percent

The following is a closer look at this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week traffic enforcement results:

·      A total of 38,878 citations/warnings were issued to CMV drivers.

·      A total of 20,315 citations/warnings were issued to passenger vehicle drivers.

·      30,714 warnings and 8,164 citations were recorded for CMV drivers.

·      7,785 warnings and 12,530 citations were recorded for passenger vehicle drivers.

·      43.5 percent of passenger vehicle driver warnings/citations were issued for speeding, versus 7.4 percent of CMV driver warnings/citations.

When it comes to distracted driving, 0.1 percent of CMV driver warnings/citations were for texting and 0.8 percent were for using a handheld phone. For passenger vehicle drivers, 0.7 percent of warnings/citations were for texting and 0.5 percent were for using a handheld phone.

For both CMV drivers (2.6 percent) and passenger vehicle drivers (9.4 percent) failure to wear a seat belt was the third most cited traffic enforcement violation for each group.

Less than one percent of warnings/citations for CMV drivers (0.6 percent) and passenger vehicle drivers (0.9 percent) were for following too closely.

16 CMV drivers received a warning/citation for using/equipping a CMV with a radar detector.

A small percentage of warnings/citations were for inattentive or careless driving – 0.2 percent of CMV drivers and 1.3 percent of passenger vehicle drivers.

19 CMV drivers received a citation for operating their vehicle while ill or fatigued; 86 received a warning.

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Chad Prevost

Chad is radio host and broadcast media specialist for FreightWaves.