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Safety should be a priority every day

By: sschnipper March 4, 2024

Last week was Operation Safe Driver Week. Conducted by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), Operation Safe Driver is “a safe-driving awareness and outreach initiative aimed at improving the driving behaviors of passenger vehicle drivers and commercial motor vehicle drivers through education and traffic enforcement strategies and interactions with law enforcement.”

I am torn about this. While I think it’s important to keep all vehicles safe on our roads, shouldn’t safety be top of mind every time someone gets behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, not just one week out of the year? Of course, when you look at accident statistics, specifically those involving trucks, it quickly becomes apparent that there is work to be done to improve truck driving safety.

In 2021, traffic deaths were the highest in 16 years, and for the first six months of 2022, truck-involved traffic fatalities were up 10% from 2021. I understand it is doubtful that we will ever get to zero accidents, but we can do better.

The way for trucking companies to improve these statistics is to make sure safety is a core value.

There isn’t a fleet anywhere that wants unsafe drivers on the road, but saying you support safe driving and having systems and processes in place are two different things.

Safety isn’t just something you talk about during driver orientation. It must be included as part of your daily messaging to drivers and others within your organization. And it’s not only your drivers’ responsibility. Dispatch plays a role in monitoring Hours of Service. Maintenance plays a role by ensuring trucks are mechanically sound when they leave the yard. And management also plays a role by setting policy and championing safe driving.

Various technology solutions allow you to monitor driver behavior and then use that data to coach drivers so they are aware of their unsafe driving practices and can correct them.

In addition, drivers should be acknowledged and rewarded if they reach safety milestones such as years or miles without an accident. It is important to do this publicly so that other drivers can see that you are serious about your commitment to safety and not just paying lip service.

Make sure you review your safe driving policies, reshare them throughout your organization, and begin reinforcing them regularly. These are reasonable first steps toward reducing truck-involved accidents. If we all start doing that, maybe someday we won’t need an Operation Safe Driver Week.