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Oct. 20-26 safety blitz to target unsafe driving behavior

Nearly 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 others are injured in large truck and bus crashes each year on the highways. (The Trucker file photo)

The Trucker News Services

10/16/2013

WASHINGTON — Law enforcement agencies across North America will engage in stepped up traffic safety enforcement during the week of October 20-26 as part of “Operation Safe Driver,” a program sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and support from a number of organizations.

The enforcement will target unsafe driving behaviors, particularly distracted driving by both commercial motor vehicles and passenger vehicles.

Nearly 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 others are injured in large truck and bus crashes each year on the highways.

Many are the direct consequence of aggressive and unsafe driving by truck and bus drivers, as well as the passenger car drivers operating unsafely around them, CVSA said.

Last year during this annual week-long mobilization effort, law enforcement officials engaged with more than 40,000 commercial and passenger vehicle drivers at 1,245 locations across the United States and Canada. This year’s enforcement blitz will be comparable.

Last year’s program results revealed that the No. 1 violation for 2012 is speeding, No. 2 was failure to use a safety belt and No. 3 was failure to obey a traffic control device while operating the vehicle and found that passenger car drivers continue to speed at alarming rates around commercial vehicles.

The CVSA said non-commercial vehicle drivers were issued speeding warnings and citations at more than twice the rate of commercial vehicle drivers last year.

The CVSA said that although distracted driving occurs with drivers of all ages, there is strong evidence that teens and younger drivers put themselves and others at risk in greater numbers.

A CDC survey last year revealed that 58 percent of high school seniors and 43 percent of high school juniors said they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous month. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, for drivers 15-19 years old involved in fatal crashes, 21 percent of the distracted drivers were distracted by the use of cell phones. Of all drivers under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes, 11 percent were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted.

CVSA President Thomas Fuller, a sergeant with the New York State Police, said, “We know most of these tragedies are preventable. CVSA is committed to saving lives and Operation Safe Driver helps us do that. This aggressive, coordinated and far-reaching enforcement effort, coupled with the program’s education and awareness components for drivers of all vehicles, does reduce unsafe and distracted driving behaviors, and that translates to fewer accidents and fatalities. I am pleased to report that this program is growing and we have more outreach events planned than ever before. We commend our member jurisdictions and industry partners for their support of and participation in this important life-saving campaign; together we are making a difference.”

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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