By Steve Vaughn, vice president of field operations, PrePass Safety Alliance
Due to their size and speed, trucks often incite fear in other drivers. Trucks tower over cars on the highway, they dangerously block lanes, they cause accidents, etc. While true to a certain degree, the positive points about trucks far outnumber the negatives. Trucks deliver necessary products, and truck drivers assist law enforcement officers, often acting as their eyes and ears on the highways. Truckers frequently arrive first on the scene of an accident or emergency and often stop and assist.
From my days at the California Highway Patrol, I know law enforcement can likewise be painted with a broad brush. We write tickets, sometimes for the smallest violation. We stop trucks at roadside, delaying drivers who are already late and running out of hours. But the fact is, like truckers, law enforcement officers also do a lot of good. Law enforcement takes responsibility for handling accident scenes, rescues and interventions. We do issue citations for traffic violations, but we also conduct free clinics for motor carriers and drivers who want to do things the right way.
Above all, we keep highway safety at the forefront, which is why agencies responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement, locally and nationally, sponsor several annual highway safety events. Events like Operation Safe Driver, Operation Airbrake, International Roadcheck, and Brake Safety Week (set for Aug. 23-29) generate a great deal of press coverage and give law enforcement the opportunity to teach safety awareness and enhance positive feelings about trucking.
More than 30 years ago, commercial vehicle enforcement and trucking industry representatives from several western states and British Columbia met under the banner of the “Crescent Project” to find common ground. Those meetings ultimately led to the creation of electronic bypass privileges for demonstrably safe and compliant carriers – the bypass program known as PrePass, and its parent, PrePass Safety Alliance, for which I now work.
But what specifically was the “common ground” that brought law enforcement and trucking together? It was not the maligned public image we often share. Rather, both groups embrace safety and efficiency.
Safety and efficiency are fundamental principles in weigh station bypass programs – safe carriers can continue and improve efficient operations, while law enforcement can more efficiently focus on carriers and trucks which may need safety attention.
Annual safety events that law enforcement agencies sponsor build on that common ground found in the Crescent Project. Law enforcement wants more highway users – truckers and motorists alike – to understand and use good safety practices. Those practices will help the vast number of safe truckers to continue their positive contributions, unhindered by accidents, needless inspections or the uninformed opinion of the masses.
The next time you read about an upcoming safety event like Brake Safety Week, Operation Safe Driver, International Roadcheck or many others like them, tell your team about the common ground shared by law enforcement and trucking. And feel free to stop by an event site and help us celebrate highway safety.
Steve Vaughn is vice president of field operations for PrePass Safety Alliance, the provider of the truck weigh station bypass system PrePass, as well as toll payment and trucking data visualization technology. He previously served with the California Highway Patrol and is a past president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.
This blog was originally published on the FleetOwner.com IdeaXchange.