Operation Safe Driver is an enforcement blitz sponsored annually by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). This year, enforcement officers will concentrate on speeding among drivers of commercial vehicles (CMVs) and other motorists near them. Speeding is one of the most commonly written driver violations involving CMVs. According to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, speeding violations are:
- The No. 1 driver violation written during roadside inspection, and
- 2 of the top 10 violations written during roadside inspections.
Speeding also accounts for just over 34 percent of the violations written during traffic enforcement involving commercial vehicles. After speeding, the second and third most common violations written during traffic enforcement are:
- Failure to obey a traffic control device (such as a stop sign or traffic light), accounting for 14 percent of all violations written; and
- Failure to use a seat belt, accounting for 13 percent of the violations written.
Avoiding issues during Operation Safe Driver
To avoid issues such as violations and citations during Operation Safe Driver (and avoid violations, citations, and crashes year-round), drivers must:
- Be skilled in the operation of their vehicles at all times and maintain control of their vehicle in all driving situations.
- Know and obey the traffic codes and laws, including speed limits, seat belt requirements, turn requirements, and lane assignments and restrictions.
- Drive safely, including:
- Reading every road sign;
- Being willing to yield the right of way to avoid a crash or near miss;
- Making all decisions about entering or crossing traffic based on the actual acceleration rate of the vehicle (not based on wishful thinking or relying on others to slow down);
- Maintaining a proper following distance and side space;
- Adjusting speed to match the traffic, weather, and road conditions;
- Exercising good judgment when passing other traffic;
- Resisting distractions like electronics and other in-cab and outside distractions;
- Staying out of the driver’s seat when not up to the task (such as due to being ill, fatigued, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or emotionally distressed).
- Drive defensively, including:
- Using an aggressive visual search;
- Keeping track of all traffic and every potential hazard within 12 seconds of the vehicle, including traffic approaching from the rear and sides (such as on a crossroad/cross street or on ramp); and
- Deciding how to deal with hazards (road, weather, or traffic) well in advance.
Training and Culture Are the Keys to Safe Drivers
While this list is already rather lengthy, your drivers should be doing these things automatically — every minute of every day that they spend driving a commercial vehicle. This is what makes them professionals.
To make sure your drivers are always behaving as professionals, you need to train them accordingly and hold them responsible for their actions. Training on skilled, compliant, safe, and defensive driving needs to start in orientation. It should alsobe a constantly recurring topic in the ongoing training program.
Your drivers also need to understand (and believe) that if one of them is found to be driving in a manner that is not skillful, compliant, safe, or defensive, immediate action will be taken. Between training and holding drivers accountable, you will develop the culture in which drivers at your company drive like professionals during Operations Safe Driver week and throughout the year.
Key to remember: Operation Safe Driver is an event that puts a spotlight onto something your drivers should be doing all the time, and that is driving skillfully, compliantly, safely, and defensively.
Tom has been with J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. since 2005. He brought with him an extensive background that includes years of experience in DOT compliance, policy development, driver human resources, driver training, training program development, CDL testing, claims management, and accident and injury prevention.
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