We’re just a little over a month past the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Road Check 2021. We hope everyone passed with flying colors! (or if you didn’t, that you’ve had a chance to get your trucks back into top shape) Now it’s time to prepare for CVSA Operation Safe Driver Week, coming July 11th – 17th.
What is Operation Safe Driver Week?
During Operation Safe Driver Week, CVSA and law enforcement focus on specific, unsafe driver behaviors. The program is part education and part enforcement. It typically targets a specific problematic behavior to increase awareness, teach safe vehicle operations, and improve commercial motor driver regulatory compliance.
The operation isn’t meant to be a penalty or punishment. It’s simply to raise awareness and improve road safety. And it has been wildly successful in years past. According to CVSA, a driver’s actions contribute to 94% of all traffic crashes. In a 2020 statement, CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police said, “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.”
What to Expect in July
In 2020, despite the challenges of the pandemic, law enforcement issued 71,343 warnings and citations during Operation Safe Driver Week. The top five enforcement citations given to commercial drivers included speeding, failure to wear a seat belt, failure to obey a traffic control device, using handheld phone/texting while driving, and improper lane change.
For the 2021 Operation Safe Driver Week, CVSA will focus specifically on the most prominent citation from last year: speeding. The National Safety Council estimated that the estimated death rate on roads last year increased 24% over the previous 12-month period, despite miles driven dropping 13%. Unfortunately, the speeding trend has continued, despite the rise in traffic since the ease in pandemic restrictions.
That doesn’t mean law enforcement will overlook other unsafe behaviors. “Data shows that traffic stops and interactions with law enforcement help reduce problematic driving behaviors,” Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance President Sgt. John Samis told Truckers News. “By making contact with drivers during Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement personnel aim to make our roadways safer by targeting high-risk driving behaviors.”
How to Prepare for Operation Safe Driver Week
The best way to get ready for this safety event is by committing yourself to safer driving habits for the entire week. Check in with yourself to see where you’ve let your good habits slip, and challenge yourself to be extra alert, cautious and compliant in the next few weeks. These practices will help you reinforce good driving behaviors, which will reduce the likelihood of a citation during Operation Safe Driver Week while also making the roadways safer for everyone.
You’ll also want to double-check that all your documents are in order. Now is the perfect time to make sure your CDL, any paperwork you have for your truck or load, and endorsements are all within easy reach of the driver’s seat.
What to Do if You’re Pulled Over
Getting pulled over is never a fun experience, but there are ways that you can make the experience less stressful. First and foremost, stay polite and professional. Remember that you are representing your carrier company. A traffic stop is not the time to plead your innocence, so keep your discussion brief. You’ll have an opportunity to argue your case before a judge. If the officer issues a warning, simply apologize for the offense, thank them, and be on your way.
If you are issued a citation, be sure to read the ticket carefully before signing. Once you sign, everything written is considered admissible evidence. Ensure you understand the exact charges, where the officer will file the charges, and when you have to respond to the court.
After getting a citation, it’s critically important to contact your carrier company’s legal and safety departments. They may have resources that can help you secure your CDL license. Don’t just pay the fine! You could accrue points on your license that may lead to difficulty securing future employment.
No one is perfect, but we can all work together to make the roadways safer. Whether you’re driving a commercial vehicle, your car, or a motorcycle, use the upcoming Operation Safe Driver Week to think about the part you play in roadway safety. Together, we can reduce the frequency and severity of accidents.