09 Jul Make Safe Driver Week a Yearlong Habit
Operation Safe Driver Week is an opportunity to reinforce safe driving habits. Being safe should be an ongoing commitment.
Most vehicle crashes in the United States are preventable. And to promote safer driving and the preventability of accidents involving commercial trucks, buses, and passenger vehicles, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) is holding its annual Operation Safe Driver Week from July 15 to July 21, 2018. The event, which is sponsored in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), highlights safe driving habits in the operation of commercial trucks, buses, and passenger vehicles, and targets — through enforcement — common unsafe behaviors, including speeding, texting, not wearing a seat belt, tailgating, and illegal lane changes.
While many of the causes of unsafe driving are well-known by many drivers, there is still a pressing need for programs such as Operation Safe Driver Week. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 7.2 million vehicle traffic crashes occurred in 2016. And, according to “Large Truck Crash Causation Study” produced by the FMCSA, driver behavior is a major cause of large truck crashes (88%) and passenger vehicle crashes (93%).
Highlighting safety during a particular week is a good way to help drivers reinforce safe driving. However, practicing safe driving behaviors should be a year-round commitment. It’s not only easy, but it can save lives.
Common Road Rules Broken
Reporting on its 2017 Operation Safe Driver Program, the CVSA identified some of the most common among the 39,000 warnings and citations issued during the weeklong event for both commercial and passenger drivers, including:
- Failure to use a seat belt
- Disobeying traffic signs and markers
- Improper lane changes
- Using mobile phones (distracted driving)
The evidence shows improving these common unsafe behaviors will cut accidents and save lives. For example, in an analysis of vehicle crashes from 2016, NHTSA found that seat belts helped save 14,668 lives, while 2,456 lives would have been saved if the rider was wearing a seat belt. Similarly, NHTSA found that 27% of all fatal crashes in 2015 involved speeding.
The Fundamentals of Safe Driving
Here are a few steps you can take to recommit to safe driving habits:
- Make sure you’re well-rested: Drowsy driving has been identified as being as dangerous as distracted driving behaviors, such as texting. Get at least six to eight hours of sleep before getting on the road. Being well-rested ensures you aren’t dozing off while driving, missing important road signs and markings, and avoiding getting into a crash.
- Turn your phone on airplane mode or off: As phones have gotten more sophisticated and capable, their use on the road has risen dramatically—you should practice turning your phone off or to airplane mode when you get behind the wheel. This will ensure that your driving experience is distraction free and safe.
- Slow down: While driving fast sounds like the quickest way to get somewhere, getting into a crash or getting pulled over by a police officer will cause a much greater delay than driving the speed limit. And it’ll cost you in points on your license, an expensive fine, and possibly increased insurance premiums. If you drive as part of your job — it could also cause you to lose your driving privileges, access to a company vehicle, or, depending on the nature of the citation, your job.
- Make a pre-drive safety checklist: Preparing a safety checklist before driving can help ensure you don’t forget to make proper mirror adjustments and you’re your seatbelt.
These steps are just the start to begin making safer driving a year round habit. Everything from regular vehicle maintenance to managing sun glare to proper use of headlights can improve your safety. Even though Operation Safe Driver Week only comes along once a year, it should be a reminder to practice safe driving every time you get behind the wheel.