Many transportation fleets across the country will get a report card this week on their drivers' safety habits, as law enforcement officers keep a close eye on commercial motor vehicle drivers in a surge intended to reduce speeding and other dangerous driving behaviors.
The effort is part of Operation Safe Driver Week, organized from July 14-20 by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit association that provides guidance and education to commercial motor vehicle enforcement, industry, and policy makers.
CVSA says the effort will focus this year on speeding, which was a contributing factor in 26 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The surge can make a large impact on commercial vehicle traffic. During last year's Operation Safe Driver Week, 16,909 passenger vehicle drivers and 1,908 commercial motor vehicle drivers were issued citations for speeding, with another 17 commercial motor vehicle drivers and 714 passenger vehicle drivers being cited for driving too fast for the conditions.
In addition to the emphasis on speeding, law enforcement personnel will be tracking other dangerous driver behaviors, such as distracted driving, texting, failure to use a seatbelt, following too closely, improper lane change, reckless or aggressive driving, failure to obey traffic control devices, and evidence of drunk or drugged driving.
While speeding bears plenty of dangers on its own, it is also an indicator of other bad driving habits, according to SmartDrive, a San Diego, Calif.-based provider of video safety, predictive analytics, telematics, and compliance programs for fleets.
"Speeding continues to be one of the most serious problems facing the commercial transportation industry. Drivers who speed are also more likely to engage in other high-risk behaviors that lead to collisions," SmartDrive COO Jason Palmer said in an email. Specifically, drivers who speed are more likely to practice unsafe following distances, cross the center line of the roadway, engage in dangerous lane changes and drive with two hands off the wheel, according to the company's "SmartDrive SmartIQ Speeding Driver Snapshot," an analysis of over 220 million analyzed driving events.
Strategies to curb drivers' speeding habits can include a coaching program where fleet managers sit down with drivers and review their past risky driving events, supported by video-based safety and analytics technology, the company says. In addition to boosting safety, that approach can also help reduce the high driver turnover seen by many transportation providers as they struggle with driver shortages."
A performance-based driver incentive program can have a profound impact on driver recruitment and retention," Palmer said. "A rewards program based on safety performance helps managers identify and recognize their best drivers, run a safer fleet, and also offers employees a pathway to make more money—chasing higher pay is the number one reason drivers leave a job."
It's Operation Safe Driver Week. Law enforcement personnel will be patrolling roadways to identify CMV drivers and passenger vehicle drivers engaged in unsafe driving behaviors. Last year, 51,000 officers made contact with 113,331 drivers. pic.twitter.com/MTc0AmV6J1— CVSA (@CVSA) July 16, 2019