Looking at behaviors that create car vs. truck problems

   With the last truck inspection of Roadcheck 2018 barely in the books, it’s going to soon be time–July 15-21, to be precise–for Operation Safe Driver Week.
   There are similarities between the two, the largest being that they are both under the direction of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). The CVSA is an alliance of several North American regulatory agencies, including the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, Transport Canada, and the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (Mexico).
   But there are also significant differences between Roadcheck 2018 and Safe Driver Week. For example, Roadcheck was targeted at trucks and buses, with enforcement of the ELD mandate a key part of this year’s initiative. Operation Safe Driver Week is a broader-based initiative, with trucks and cars both in its scope, but with the interaction between the two as the central focus. After all, it is the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.
   Jill Schultz, the editor for transportation safety at the safety-focused firm of J.J. Keller, said last year’s Safe Driver Week took place in October. It racked up approximately 8,000 citations for commercial vehicles, and 12,000 for passenger vehicles, according to Schultz.
   “The CVSA does this at least one week per year,” Schultz said. “What they are looking at is education and enforcement for safe driving behind the wheel for everyone, not just trucks and buses.  It’s a focused effort, and they’re looking for things like moving violations and speeding, and making sure people aren’t using mobile devices while driving.”
   “The primary difference is that this is about driving behaviors,” Scott Hernandez, CVSA Director of Crash Standards and Analysis Scott Hernandez, said in an interview with FreightWaves.  And much of the focus will be on the behaviors that can create safety issues in the interaction between commercial vehicles and passenger cars.
   But law enforcement is on the road every day. What’s happening here that’s different? As Hernandez said, no matter what your line of work is, “everyone gets busy in everyday life.” So policing behaviors that can often lead to incidents between trucks and cars may not always be the focus of state police officers who are doing a wide range of other activities.
   “There are agencies in the country that are working toward this effort, and have assigned people specifically for this,” Hernandez said. “They are not necessarily doing it every other day of the year.”
   With Operation Safe Driver Week focused on driver behaviors, it’s imperative that fleets look at programs that change driver behavior throughout the year so drivers are not impacted during this week. One of the most effective programs is video-based safety, like that offered by SmartDrive.
   According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, video-based onboard safety monitoring systems can prevent as many as 63,000 crashes, 17,733 injuries and 293 deaths each year. As noted by Cypress Truck Lines (“We’ve seen results where we’ve been able to improve driver behavior.”) and Golden State Foods (“It’s a tool that can make drivers great. And great drivers even better.”) and hundreds of other fleets, video-based safety changes driver behavior so fleet managers can relax during Operation Safe Driver Week, and every other week of the year.
   There is no firm list of things that states are supposed to do during Safe Driver Week. Hernandez said some states “could dive a little deeper into this.” Individually, state authorities could choose particular corridors that are accident-prone and look to police the behaviors that appear to be causing higher than normal numbers.
   Hernandez stressed that whatever efforts are ongoing are not strictly targeted at commercial vehicles. “Some incidents are more often caused by passenger vehicles, so whatever occurs out there on given days is what the officers will enforce,” Hernandez said.
   When it’s over, Hernandez said that data from around the country and other parts of North America will be gathered and compared to prior years, “and we’ll see what the trends are.” It will be reviewed at CVSA’s annual meeting in Kansas City in September.
   Operation Safe Driver doesn’t just involve one week. It also has two focused educational programs. Teens and Trucks is aimed at trying to ensure teenage drivers understand what they’re up against when they’re driving in the vicinity of a truck, like its blind spots and how long it takes a truck to stop. A second, Defeat Distracted Driving, aims to educate on truck drivers and that issue.
   The CVSA is not done in 2018 with its “weeks.” Brake Safety Week is coming up in September.
   Both Schultz and Hernandez said that unlike Roadcheck week, when there are stories of independent owner operators staying home to avoid the enforcement activities, Safe Driver Week has not had that reputation.