Commercial motor vehicle (CMV) enforcement personnel patrolled roadways during Operation Safe Driver Week, July 15-21, to identify CMV drivers and passenger vehicle drivers engaged in unsafe driving behaviors. Throughout the week, officers issued 57,405 citations and 87,907 warnings.
Operation Safe Driver Week, a safety initiative of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), aims to call attention to driver behaviors, the main cause of crashes, and combat those behaviors through heightened traffic safety enforcement and educational outreach. Efforts like this are especially important in the waste and recycling industry, which is regularly listed as one of the top 10 dangerous jobs in the U.S.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), collection is one of the most dangerous activities in the industry. Workers have lost their lives due to being backed over by trucks or struck by oncoming vehicles as they were exiting the trucks they were driving. According to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report, refuse and recyclable materials collectors continued to have a high fatality rate in 2016, with 34.1 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers.
During this year’s Operation Safe Driver Week, 51,000 law enforcement officers made contact with 113,331 CMV drivers and passenger vehicle drivers. A total of 42,144 CMV contacts were made with 10,709 citations issued, and 71,187 passenger vehicle contacts were made with 46,696 citations issued.
In addition to the citations, officers issued a total of 87,907 warnings. CMV drivers were given 29,908 warnings, while 57,999 warnings were given to passenger vehicle drivers.
The top five citations issued to CMV drivers were:
- State/local laws—6,008 citations
- Speeding—1,908 citations
- Failing to use a seat belt while operating a CMV—1,169 citations
- Failure to obey a traffic control device—754 citations
- Using a handheld phone—262 citations
The top five citations issued to passenger vehicle drivers were:
- State/local laws—21,511 citations
- Speeding—16,909 citations
- Failing to use a seat belt—3,103 citations
- Inattentive and/or careless driving—1,655 citations
- Failure to obey a traffic control device—739 citations
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, 18 percent of drivers involved in a fatal crash were speeding at the time of the crash, and 27 percent of those killed were in a crash involving at least one speeding driver.
NHTSA research found that of the total number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes in 2016, 48 percent were not wearing a seat belt. Seat belts could have saved an estimated 2,456 people if they had been wearing one. For professional drivers specifically, safety belt usage by commercial truck and bus drivers was at 86 percent in 2016, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration survey data.
When it comes to distracted driving, 211 passenger vehicle driver citations during Operation Safe Driver Week were for texting; 20 texting citations were issued to CMV drivers, while 127 passenger vehicle drivers and 262 CMV drivers were cited for using a handheld phone.
According to NHTSA, in 2016, 3,450 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. NHTSA also estimated that of the total number of roadway deaths, crashes and injuries, 660,000 drivers were using an electronic device while behind the wheel. Of the total number of fatal crashes, 10 percent involved the use of a phone. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes reported to involve a distracted driver.
Operation Safe Driver Week results also of note include:
- A total of 1,822 drivers (1,699 passenger vehicle drivers and 123 CMV drivers) were cited for reckless, inattentive and/or careless driving.
- 366 drivers were cited for possession/use/under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both. Forty-two of the citations were issued to CMV drivers, and 324 were issued to passenger vehicle drivers.
- Specific to CMV drivers, 17 were cited for operating their vehicle while ill or fatigued, and 14 received citations for using/equipping their CMV with a radar detector.
“During Operation Safe Driver Week, law enforcement officers throughout the United States and Canada aimed to reduce the number of crashes on our roadways through an effective mix of education and enforcement of highway safety,” said CVSA President Christopher Turner with the Kansas Highway Patrol in a statement. “By improving the driving behaviors of all drivers operating in an unsafe manner, either in or around commercial motor vehicles, we are working our way toward the goal of zero roadway deaths.”
Major groups across the waste and recycling industry—the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) and the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI)—have made it a point to focus on safety throughout the industry. They have been working to promote knowledge of and compliance of Slow Down to Get Around legislation to better improve safety for all collection workers.
“We look forward to working with CVSA to understand the underlying data and what it means for waste and recycling drivers,” states NWRA. “We understand the need for strong enforcement and look forward to working with CVSA to make waste and recycling safer.”
“SWANA is a strong supporter of CVSA activities such as Operation Safe Driver Week,” says David Biderman, SWANA’s executive director and CEO. “With the high level of accidents and fatalities involving the waste collection component of the industry, focused attention on unsafe driving behaviors, by both industry drivers and the motoring public, is very helpful. SWANA will continue to work with CVSA and others to get waste collection employees off the list of 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States. Nothing we do is more important.”
When it comes down to it, fatal accidents in the waste and recycling industry can be prevented by taking proper precautions. Here are some vehicle operations safety tips provided by OSHA:
- Wear seat belts that meet OSHA standards, except on equipment that is designed only for standup operation or that has no rollover protective structure.
- Check vehicles before each shift to assure that all parts and accessories are in safe operating condition.
- Do not drive a vehicle in reverse gear with an obstructed rear view, unless it has an audible reverse alarm or another worker signals that it is safe.
- Drive vehicles or equipment only on roadways or grades that are safely constructed and maintained.
- Make sure that you and all other personnel are in the clear before using dumping or lifting devices.
- Lower or block bulldozer and scraper blades, end-loader buckets, dump bodies, etc., when not in use, and leave all controls in neutral position.
- Set parking brakes when vehicles and equipment are parked, and chock the wheels if they are on an incline. All vehicles must have adequate braking systems and other safety devices.
- Haulage vehicles that are loaded by cranes, power shovels, loaders etc., must have a cab shield or canopy that protects the driver from falling materials.
- Do not exceed a vehicle's rated load or lift capacity.
- Do not carry personnel unless there is a safe place to ride.
- Workers in highway/road construction work zones must be highly visible in all levels of light. Warning clothing, such as red or orange vests, are required. If worn for night work, it must be of reflective material.