More than 10,000 citations and warnings were issued to professional drivers during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's (CVSA) first enforcement initiative of 2020. This year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, which took place July 12-18, was the CVSA's first nationwide enforcement blitz after others were postponed or canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the challenges associated with the pandemic, 3,681 enforcement officers from 55 Canadian and U.S. jurisdictions interacted with 29,921 commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and 36,500 passenger vehicle drivers during this year’s enforcement blitz.
“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,” said CVSA President Sgt. John Samis with the Delaware State Police. “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.”
Over the course of the week, enforcement officials interacted with 29,921 commercial drivers. CMV drivers were issued 10,736 warnings and citations for traffic enforcement violations—that’s 4,659 citations and 6,077 warnings, according to CVSA.
Speeding, the focus of this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, was the top traffic enforcement violation for both commercial and passenger vehicle drivers. Commercial motor vehicle drivers were issued 2,339 speed-related citations and 3,423 warnings.
The top five traffic enforcement citations given to commercial drivers were:
- Speeding/violation of basic speed law/driving too fast for the conditions – 2,339
- Failure to use seat belt while operating commercial motor vehicle – 1,003
- Failure to obey traffic control device – 617
- Using a hand-held phone/texting – 269
- Improper lane change – 122
Commercial drivers received 3,423 warnings and 2,339 citations for speed-related offenses, or 56.33% of all warnings and 50.20% of all citations given to CMV drivers. In 2017, at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32% of the large truck drivers in fatal crashes, compared to 54% of the passenger vehicle drivers in fatal crashes. “Speeding of Any Kind” was the most frequent driver-related factor for drivers of both vehicle types.
Failure to use seat belt while operating a commercial 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,” CVSA stated. “Federal regulations state that a commercial motor vehicle shall not 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 crashes. However, seat belt use among commercial motor vehicle drivers continues to improve, with the overall seat belt use rate for drivers of medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses at a record high of 86%, CVSA pointed out.
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 drivers of commercial motor vehicles.
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 motor vehicle 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 motor 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.
Comparing the data
Overall, during Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement personnel observed 66,421 drivers engaging in unsafe driver behaviors on roadways, which resulted in officers issuing 71,343 warnings and citations during the week: 42,857 traffic enforcement violations and 28,486 other state/local driver violations.
Traffic enforcement violations include unsafe driving behaviors, such as speeding, distracted driving, following too closely, improper lane change, failure to wear a seatbelt, etc. State/local driver violations may include vehicle-related observations an officer may notice during a traffic stop, such as mirror equipment violations, expired license plate tags, inoperative lamps, etc.
Passenger vehicle drivers received 17,329 citations and 14,792 warnings for traffic enforcement violations, totaling 32,121 warnings and citations. Altogether, passenger vehicle drivers and CMV drivers received a total of 21,988 traffic enforcement citations and 20,869 warnings during this year’s blitz.
Passenger vehicle drivers received nearly three times as many warnings and citations (32,121) as CMV drivers (10,736 warnings and citations). Although speed-related offenses were the top traffic enforcement violation for both types of drivers, passenger vehicle drivers received 14,378 citations versus 2,339 citations to commercial drivers. Passenger vehicle drivers were cited for speeding more than six times as much as commercial motor vehicle drivers.
Although commercial motor vehicle drivers are prohibited from using a hand-hand device while operating their vehicle, it was the fourth ranked traffic enforcement citation for commercial motor vehicle drivers (269 citations) versus ranking 12th for passenger vehicle drivers (58 citations).
Failure to wear a seatbelt accounted for 4.25% of the total number of passenger vehicle driver warnings and citations (1,364) versus 16.42% of the total number of commercial motor vehicle driver warnings and citations (1,763).
Although this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week occurred during a pandemic, there was a difference of less than 700 contacts made between law enforcement and commercial motor vehicle drivers compared to last year – 29,921 contacts in July 2020 versus 30,619 in July 2019. However, 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.