Safe Driver Week continues through Saturday, July 18

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An effort by law enforcement personnel throughout North America to look for drivers who are engaging in unsafe driving behaviors is under way on the highways of the U.S. and Canada now through Saturday, July 18.

During this week-long traffic enforcement safety initiative, law enforcement personnel throughout North America will look for drivers who are engaging in unsafe driving behaviors. Drivers violating highway safety laws — and especially speeding — will be pulled over and may be issued a warning or citation.

CVSA says stay-at-home requirements created early on by the COVID-19 coronavirus meant fewer vehicles are on the nation’s highways. As a result,  many jurisdictions have seen increases in speeding.

Christopher Turner is the director of crash and data programs at the CVSA and a former captain with the Kansas Highway Patrol. He says there has been changes in highway behavior since the serious onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Obviously this has never happened in our nation’s history or maybe the world’s history where we shut everything down for an extended period of time,” says Turner. “So I don’t think any safety professional could say they knew exactly what to expect. I think the United States, as a nation, is down overall about 16% in vehicle miles traveled. And, while in fact there have been, generally speaking, fewer crashes, the severity of those crashes, hasn’t decreased. In other words, in some places where crashes are down, the number of fatalities aren’t down near as much. That is in large part due to increase risk and risky driving behavior.”

Turner says Safe Driver Week is one of CVSA’s “most critical enforcement campaigns.” The organization ‘s annual Operation Roadcheck — postponed this year by the COVID-19 pandemic — and Brake Safety Week Aug. 23-29 focus, for the most part, on ensuring commercial motor vehicles are in safe working conditions. However, Safe Driver Week, as its name suggests, focuses on the man or woman behind the wheel. And for good reason, according to Turner.

He says, “Any safety professional will tell you the most common cause of crashes is driver behavior or a driver factor, meaning the driver made a choice to speed or to not use a turn signal or didn’t anticipate the speed they need to go around the curve. Those are driver factors. During this week we focus on driver factors.

“We ask all of our members to really enforce or pay special attention with a critical eye to the rules of the road. What I mean by that is any violation they see, especially around a large truck, they should take that violation to stop the driver and take the correct enforcement action, whatever action they deem necessary to correct that behavior, whether it’s a citation or warning, and really stress to that driver the information about fatalities and how critical it is, that they follow the rules of the road, and that they do slow down.”

In addition to a focus on speeding, examples of other dangerous driver behaviors that law enforcement will track during Operation Safe Driver Week include distracted driving, failure to use a seatbelt, following too closely, improper lane change, reckless or aggressive driving, failure to obey traffic control devices, and evidence of drunk or drugged driving.