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Speeding Truck

CVSA Driver Effort Finds Over 66,000 Violations

Sept. 15, 2020
One-week event finds speeding to be the No. 1 violation for truck and car drivers.

Pandemic or no pandemic, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) was bound and determined to conduct this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week. The continent-wide enforcement campaign, held July 12-18, ended up handing out more than 66,000 citations to truck and car drivers who were found breaking a range of safety laws.

The results were announced earlier this month. CVSA reported that 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.

CVSA also held its annual International Roadcheck series of roadside inspections of commercial trucks and drivers across North America last week, with the results to be announced later.

During July’s Operation Safe Driver Week, state and Canadian provincial law enforcement officers issued a total of 71,343 warnings and citations, which were comprised of 42,857 traffic enforcement violations and 28,486 other state/local driver violations.

Traffic enforcement violations included unsafe driving behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, following too closely, improper lane change, failure to wear a seatbelt. State and local driver violations can include vehicle-related observations an officer may notice during a traffic stop, such as mirror equipment violations, expired license plate tags and inoperative lamps, CVSA said.

“Although the coronavirus pandemic understandably shifted priorities and personnel during the spring, the commercial motor vehicle law enforcement community has reasserted its focus on the roadside inspection program and enforcement duties,” says CVSA president Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “Jurisdictions are nearly back to their pre-pandemic capacity with a strengthened concentration on identifying and removing unfit vehicles and drivers from our roadways using federal safety standards and the out-of-service criteria.”

Commercial motor vehicle drivers were issued 10,736 warnings and citations for traffic enforcement violations. That’s 4,659 citations and 6,077 warnings. Motorists received 17,329 citations and 14,792 warnings for traffic violations, totaling 32,121 warnings and citations. Altogether, motorists and commercial motor vehicle drivers received a total of 21,988 traffic enforcement citations and 20,869 warnings during the event.

Speeding Is Main Focus

Speeding, which was the focus of this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, was the top traffic enforcement violation for both types of drivers. Car 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.

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.

Commercial drivers also received 3,423 warnings for speed-related offenses. That’s 56.33% of warnings issued to motorists and commercial drivers, and made up 50.20% of all citations that were given to commercial drivers.

The reason for the focus on enforcement of speeding and other laws regulating driver behavior is not hard to figure out. The percentage of crashes involving some type of driver-related behavior is estimated at 94%. In 2017, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32% of truck drivers in fatal crashes and 54% of motorists in fatal crashes, CVSA points out. “Speeding of any kind” was the most frequent driver-related factor for drivers of both vehicle types.

Failure to use a 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 can’t 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. This year, seat belt use among commercial drivers continued to improve, CVSA notes, with the overall seat belt use rate for drivers of medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses at a record high of 86%.

Cell Phone Dangers

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 commercial vehicle drivers in interstate commerce.

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 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 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.

“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,” Samis notes. “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.”

Motorists received nearly three times as many warnings and citations (32,121) as commercial motor vehicle drivers (10,736 warnings and citations), and the top offense also was speeding.

Motorists received more than six times as many speed-related citations as commercial drivers: 14,378 compared to 2,339.

Although this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a difference of less than 700 contacts made between law enforcement and commercial motor vehicle drivers when compared to last year’s event—29,921 contacts in July 2020 versus 30,619 in July 2019.

However, CVSA reported that 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.

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, according to CVSA. Motorist assistance from officers includes such things as helping fix 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 and traffic control.

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