Each year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) sponsors Operation Safe Driver Week to raise awareness of safe driving practices and common violations of traffic laws. Along with warning and citing drivers for moving violations, CVSA-certified inspectors also conducted roadside inspections of commercial vehicles during this week. The goal of the program is to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries caused by unsafe driving practices by both commercial drivers and passenger vehicle drivers.
For 2015, data was collected by nearly 3,000 law enforcement officers at over 700 sites across the U.S. and Canada during the third week of October. 21,012 drivers were pulled over for violations and 19,480 roadside inspections of commercial vehicles were conducted.
Results of the Sweep
While the data shows that non-commercial drivers are more likely to speed than commercial truck drivers, the violations committed by truck drivers still pose a threat to the safety of motorists. Due to their large size and the number of trucks on our highways every day, even a seemingly minor violation can lead to tragic consequences. The most common truck driver violations cited this year are as follows:
Size and weight violations.
Size and weight allowances are set by federal and state governments with safety in mind. Trucks are designed to safely carry a certain amount of weight and if they carry a load that exceeds that weight, the truck will be harder to control and harder to stop. Often, when a truck is overloaded it is also unbalanced, which could lead to tipping and rollover accidents.
While many more passenger car drivers were cited for speeding than commercial truck drivers, a truck driver driving too fast is a much greater threat to others on the road. When a 40-ton truck is barreling out of control down the highway, the results can be deadly.
Failure to wear a seatbelt.
When a truck driver chooses not to buckle up, he is endangering more than his own life. For one thing, not wearing a seatbelt is an indication of apathy or laziness that could translate to additional dangerous behaviors. For another, if a trucker is forced to make a sudden maneuver to avoid an obstacle and he is not buckled in, he could be thrown to the side and away from the brake pedal and steering while, making the accident much worse than it would have been had he been wearing his seatbelt.
Failure to obey traffic control device.
This violation indicates that a trucker is not attentive to his surroundings and fails to notice or chooses not to obey speed limit signs, road curve warnings, road work signs, lane ending signs, and detour signs. While passenger car drivers are also guilty of this violation, a truck suddenly swerving into a lane of traffic because he did not heed a lane ending sign will cause a lot more harm than a car doing the same thing.
Using a handheld phone.
The modern trucker has a lot of technology at his disposal, from GPS systems to communication devices. However, the use of a handheld phone for texting, checking the Internet, or talking is strictly prohibited for all truck drivers. This distraction is a major cause of at-fault truck accidents. In the few seconds it takes to check a text, an obstacle could pop up in front of a driver without him seeing it. While it takes an average passenger car around 300 feet to fully stop when travelling at 65 miles per hour, it takes a commercial truck nearly 600 feet to stop. Once again, trucks pose more risk.
In 2012, 3,802 trucks were involved in fatal truck accidents in the United States. While truckers were not at fault in all of those crashes, the more they engage in the above risky behaviors, the more likely they are to cause dangerous and fatal crashes.
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