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Get Ready NOW for Operation Safe Driver 2021
Operation Safe Driver week will happen July 11-17 throughout North America. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and its partner state and provincial commercial vehicle agencies have announced that the primary focus will be on speeding—by both commercial vehicles and passenger cars.
By Karen Rasmussen, ICSA Executive Director
Yes, passenger cars! When Operation Safe Driver was originally conceived, our focus was on observing risky behavior of passenger car drivers around large trucks, pulling these motorists over and issuing them a citation or warning, while handing them information on how to drive safely around large trucks. I say “our focus” because I was privileged to serve as the co-chair of Operation Safe Driver for a few years, working closely with enforcement and industry to educate passenger car drivers about the operating characteristics of big trucks.
About that time AAA came out with its landmark study that showed nearly 3/4 of all truck involved crashes are the fault of passenger car drivers. Subsequent studies have shown roughly the same proportion of passenger car drivers at fault. We know you see it all out there: cars tailgate you, make unsafe lane changes around you, hang out in NO Zones (your blind spots) and cut so closely in front of you that it’s a miracle you could slow down in time to avoid hitting them! Please be sure to read Mike’s Coaching Corner in this issue for some good advice on safe following distances.
A good commercial driver must be hyper-alert at all times, all the more reason to watch your speed and leave an appropriate following distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
You may not know that Operation Safe Driver’s educational focus went beyond simply that one week each year of heightened enforcement against unsafe behavior. Through FMCSA grants and other funding, we developed videos and instructional materials to teach novice drivers how to share the road safely with trucks. These materials, including “Teens & Trucks” and “Defeating Distracted Driving” are still in use in many states and Canadian provinces.
During Operation Safe Driver week, officers will also look for other safety violations both by truckers and by passenger car drivers. These include distracted driving, including use of a hand-held cell phones, failure to wear seat belts and other actions that create danger on the highway.
One last tip: Be sure that you, your vehicle and your paperwork are all in good order. While Operation Safe Driver 2021 is not directly focused on maintenance, hours of service and driver fatigue, if you are pulled over by an enforcement officer and they see something of concern, they may schedule an inspection on the spot. Get ready now for Operation Safe Driver!
In the May issue of The Landing Gear, we reported on two motor carrier issues under review by FMCSA’s Medical Review Board (MRB). The first is an alternative vision standard that could make it possible for more drivers to meet vision requirements; the second is a review of the current method of assessing the impact of non-insulin treated diabetes mellitus (Non-ITDM) on a CDL driver’s physical qualification.
Maintaining the proper following distance gives you time to make good, well-planned decisions and affords other drivers the opportunity to do the same. What is your regular following distance? Adding even one more second can be a game changer.