Passenger and commercial vehicle drivers who travel at unsafe speeds are responsible for about a quarter of all road deaths. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s annual Operation Safe Driver Week is a weeklong awareness and outreach initiative that targets risky behavior like speeding and not using seat belts with educational campaigns and enforcement actions. During the most recent Operation Safe Driver Week, which ended on July 17, law enforcement agencies in Michigan and around the country pulled over more than 28,000 tractor-trailers and almost 18,000 cars, pickup trucks and SUVs.
These traffic stops led to citations for more than 3,000 commercial vehicle operators and more than 9,000 passenger vehicle drivers. This means that police issued citations to about half of the passenger vehicle drivers they pulled over, which indicates that most of them were stopped for moving violations like speeding. Speeding was the most common reason given for writing a citation, but a large number of tickets were also issued to drivers who were unrestrained by seat belts, ignored traffic control devices or used cellphones or other mobile devices while behind the wheel.
While police officers around the country were pulling over car and truck drivers during Operation Safe Driver Week, the federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was wrapping up a seven-week investigation into trucking companies with poor safety records and a history of motor vehicle accidents. After investigating almost 300 high and moderate-risk carriers, the agency issued 30 unsatisfactory ratings, 64 conditional ratings and 10 out-of-service orders. Carriers rated as unsatisfactory that fail to address pressing safety issues may be prohibited from operating commercial vehicles.
Patience and vigilance
The results of Operation Safe Driver Week suggest that many car drivers behave recklessly to avoid getting stuck behind commercial vehicles. This is incredibly dangerous as tractor-trailers can weigh as much as 40 tons, have large blind spots and do not stop as quickly or turn as sharply as passenger vehicles. The CVSA should be commended for raising awareness about this issue and addressing it with outreach initiatives as well as an enforcement blitz.