Safe driving should be a priority for everyone who gets behind the wheel throughout the year, but from July 12 to 18, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance observed its annual Operation Safe Driver Week, in hopes of raising awareness of the issue.
Even as the nation's highways and byways are seeing less traffic amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, instances of fatal accidents are actually on the rise, according to the organization. Data from the National Safety Council suggests that from March 2019 to the same month this year – when pandemic lockdowns were in full effect – the number of fatalities seen on American roads actually ticked up 14% per mile of driving.
The heart of the issue
It seems that this trend arose because, especially in large metropolitan areas usually choked with traffic, the average driving speed increased an average of 75% when comparing January and February to March, the report said. Data also suggests that instances of speeding increased 27%, and hard braking jumped 25% from the six-week period from Feb. 7 to March 15 to the roughly one month between March 16 and April 19. The number of accidents seen nationwide during these times rose 20%.
The hope from the CVSA, which launched its Operation Safe Driver Program in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2007, is that a better understanding of these statistics and other information will be enough to make people reconsider their dangerous habits behind the wheel.
What comes next?
With Operation Safe Driver Week now firmly in the rearview mirror, the CVSA is looking ahead to the end of August, when it will celebrate Brake Safety Week. During the week of Aug. 23-29, officials will be diligently inspecting commercial vehicles to ensure their brakes are in good working order.
Last year's edition of the event found that 13.5% of those vehicles had brake-related violations, meaning they were taken out of service – representing about 2 in every 15 commercial vehicles on the road, the CVSA found. Similarly, during 2019's International Roadcheck event – the 2020 version of which has been delayed indefinitely due to the pandemic – the organization determined that brake systems and brake adjustment violations made up more than 45% of violations that resulted in vehicles being taken out of service.
Whether highways are home to miles-long traffic snarls or surface streets are wide open due to the pandemic, every driver needs to have a reliable brake system to ensure the safety of themselves and everyone else they share the road with.
Greening Testing Laboratories is a fully certified brake testing lab that provides a variety of brake testing services worldwide. Contact Greening Associates for a complimentary consultation.