CVSA launches Operation Safe Driver at ATA meeting

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By Randy Grider

With a NASCAR-style Chevrolet Impala sporting an “88%” decal as the backdrop, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance officially kicked off Operation Safe Driver Monday, Oct. 22, at the American Trucking Associations annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

Operation Safe Driver, a weeklong safety and enforcement campaign of CVSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, runs through Oct. 28. Many states also plan educational events this week.

The 88 percent figure comes from FMCSA’s 2006 Large Truck Crash Causation Study that found drivers’ actions or inactions, both truckers and four-wheelers, accounted for 88 percent of truck-passenger car crashes. The study also concluded that 56 percent of the time, crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles were the fault of the car driver, while 44 percent were the fault of the truck driver.

“The 56/44 number is important because it shows that nearly nine of every 10 accidents happen because a driver makes the wrong decision,” said FMCSA Administrator John Hill.

Operation Safe Driver’s main goal is to reduce fatalities and injuries resulting from reckless driving around trucks. In some areas, law enforcement officers will ride along in trucks, looking for violations by both four-wheelers and truckers alike; they then will call ahead to patrol units that will stop the violators.

Not all violators will be given tickets. Some violators will be handed safety brochures explaining many of the dangerous maneuvers that automobile drivers commonly commit around trucks.

“The first step in fixing a problem is admitting we have one,” said CVSA Executive Director Stephen Campbell. “Driving is a privilege and not a right. We want to educate everyone on the roadways.”