According to the National Safety Council’s (NSC) preliminary estimates, the estimated rate of death on roads last year increased 24% over the previous 12-month period, despite miles driven dropping 13%. The increase in the rate of death is the highest estimated year-over-year jump NSC has calculated in 96 years.
“With fewer motorists on the road and an increased demand on trucking due to the pandemic, these two factors likely dramatically impacted the increase in road deaths,” said Fred Fakkema, vice president of safety and compliance at Zonar Systems. “Despite the downtick in drivers, there have been more speeding incidents. When vehicles are traveling faster, the accidents they are in are likely going to be more severe. Drivers are also under more pressure for on-time deliveries with the increased demand on freight and the numerous issues with the supply chain.”
During the week-long event, law enforcement officers will be on the lookout for commercial motor vehicle drivers as well as passenger vehicle drivers engaging in risky driving behaviors in or around a commercial motor vehicle. Identified unsafe drivers will be pulled over and issued a citation or warning.
“Just like [the driver], troopers and inspectors are just doing their job when they conduct a roadside inspection,” explained Fakkema. “Their main goal is to make sure everyone on the road stays safe, so be professional. Acting in a defensive or combative manner can prolong the inspection and lead to schedule interruptions and fines. If a driver is involved in a conflict with an inspector, try to stay as calm as possible and contact a supervisor to avoid escalating an issue.”
In addition to speeding, law enforcement officers will be tracking other dangerous driver behaviors throughout Operation Safe Driver Week, such as reckless or aggressive driving, distracted driving, following too closely, improper lane change, failure to obey traffic control devices, failure to use a seat belt, evidence of drunk or drugged driving, etc.
“Fleet managers understand that not all accidents are preventable, but there are still thousands of violations handed out yearly to large truck and bus drivers for common driving mistakes,” said Fakkema. “In 2018, there were 9,741 violations given for following too closely, 49,032 for failure to obey traffic control devices, 66,930 for speeding 6-10 mph over the speed limit, 30,743 for speeding 11-14 mph over the speed limit, and 28,770 for lane restriction violations.
“While fleet managers can encourage drivers to mitigate many of these incidents by being self-aware, the truth is, like in many industries, technology has arrived on the scene to support and reduce burdens,” added Fakkema. “Enter dashcam solutions, that provide real-time alerts to driver on critical factors such as posted speed limits, following too close, lane drifting, following too close, lade drifting, rolling stops, hard braking, hard acceleration, hard corning, distracted driving (looking at phone) fatigue (yawning) and droopy eyes (eyes closing/falling asleep).”
According to Fakkema, these alerts can be delivered in real-time to drivers to prevent accidents in addition to being reported to the driver at the end of a trip so that they can review incidents to improve their driving.
“Fleet managers can access the same driver data and set thresholds and notifications for their fleet’s behavior based on criteria they determine most critical to their operations,” explained Fakkema. “Fleet managers can use this data to reward the safest, most efficient and compliant drivers while reducing and correcting potentially dangerous behaviors. Managers also have access to event video reports, scores, trends, and analytics to improve fleet management and driver performance.”
Fakkema also reiterated the importance of pre-inspections.
“Regardless of why a driver is initially put in a roadside inspection, they should go through and understand each level of inspection and make sure all items and features within each level are ready for a close examination,” said Fakkema. “Knowing the most common violations (brakes out of adjustment, other brake problems, lights, tires and wheels, cargo load securement) can help drivers focus on crucial features and help them stay on the road.”
As “normal life” begins to return, FleetOwner asked Fakkema if road congestion will continue to trend back into normal ranges.
“Speed will decrease as road congestion returns to ‘normal’ and increases, however, drivers will have to continually be reminded that safety is a culture and is imperative, regardless of the amount of traffic,” explained Fakkema. “Also, more safety technologies are being added to both commercial and passenger vehicles, and with the current administration, there is a likelihood that some of them, such as speed limiters, could be mandated soon.”
CVSA created a complimentary postcard for 2021 Operation Safe Driver Week, available in English, French and Spanish, that can be ordered and shared to spread the word about this year’s event.
This article was originally posted by American Trucker.