The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) recently announced this year’s Operation Safe Driver will take place July 11-17. The focus will be speeding, and it’s no wonder why.
Operation Safe Driver is one of CVSA’s three annual enforcement events, along with International Roadcheck and Brake Safety Week. Unlike normal roadside inspection activity, during these three events inspectors from the U.S., Canada and Mexico try to look at virtually every commercial motor vehicle or vehicle operator.
During Operation Safe Driver, commercial vehicle enforcement officers will reach beyond trucks and buses. In addition to their primary focus, officers will also watch for passenger vehicle drivers engaging in risky behaviors near a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Safety, CVSA emphasizes, depends on good behavior by both professional drivers and motorists.
During Operation Safe Driver, law enforcement will watch both cars and trucks for reckless or aggressive driving. They will also look for distracted driving, following too closely, improper lane change, failure to obey traffic control devices, failure to use a seat belt, and evidence of drunk or drugged driving.
For truck drivers, enforcement officers will also check for currently valid commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) and medical cards, plus endorsements appropriate to the vehicle being operated and the cargo being hauled. By the July timeframe of Operation Safe Driver, motor carriers should make sure their CMV drivers are up to date on all credentials.
Why will Operation Safe Driver focus on speeding in 2021?
To put it simply, the numbers don’t lie.
CVSA compared the violations recorded during the 2019 and 2020 International Roadcheck and Operation Safe Driver events. Despite the lower traffic volumes in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, speeding violations by CMV drivers increased significantly. And passenger car drivers? They were cited for speeding six times more!
CVSA underscores the point. According to the National Safety Council’s preliminary estimates, the highway fatality rate increased 24% last year over 2019, despite mileage dropping 13%. An apparent major cause of those fatalities was speeding.
Congress will take notice of the National Safety Council’s findings. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) will pay close attention to CVSA numbers. The result may well be a federal rulemaking requiring speed limiters on CMVs.
Federal rulemakings take time, so no timeline yet on the effective date of a speed limiter mandate. But there is no reason to add another statistic to the highway fatality and speeding figures. Management and drivers share in the responsibility to control speed. Safe driving starts with good route planning and a strong safety culture.
When Operation Safe Driver rolls around this year, be sure your trucks and drivers are counted among the “safe.”