HARTFORD – Connecticut is marking Operation Safe Driver Week, which runs Oct. 20-26, to increase safety awareness among operators of large trucks and buses, and passenger vehicles.
Federal statistics show that nearly 4,000 people are killed and almost 100,000 others are injured in large truck and bus crashes each year on the nation’s highways. Many are the direct consequence of aggressive and unsafe driving by truck and bus drivers, as well as the passenger car drivers operating unsafely around them.
“In our efforts to keep Connecticut’s highways safe for everyone who travels them, we have implemented laws that encourage drivers to remain focused on the task at hand, obey the speed limit and make responsible choices to avoid situations that lead to potentially fatal accidents. This is only half the battle – the second part is ensuring drivers have the information necessary to understand the dangers of distracted, unsafe driving especially when they are traveling in the blind spot of a large commercial vehicle,” said Governor Dannel P. Malloy. “We are highlighting this campaign to let drivers know that when they share the road with trucks and buses, the decisions they make could mean the difference between life and death or serious injury.”
State and federal officials joined trucking industry members in Hartford today to mark Operation Safe Driver Week in Connecticut and remind all motorists about the hazards posed by unsafe driving in and around large trucks and buses.
“Far too many people are killed and injured in crashes with large trucks and buses, and the only solution is for drivers to share the road responsibly by keeping a safe distance behind those vehicles,” Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said. “The message of this awareness program is simple but very powerful: taking a gamble on the road by cutting it close could cut your life short.”
Lt. Governor Wyman today was joined at the State Capitol by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Administrator Anne S. Ferro, state Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Melody A. Currey and representatives from the state Department of Transportation, State Police, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut to raise awareness about safe driving.
“We can save lives, prevent injuries, and improve public safety by reinforcing the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of sharing the road safely,” said Administrator Ferro. “FMCSA is proud to partner with the State of Connecticut and CVSA to help educate drivers during the week-long Operation Safe Driver campaign.”
During Operation Safe Driver, DMV Commercial Vehicle Division enforcement officers and State Police are targeting aggressive and fatigued truck and bus drivers, as well as car drivers operating unsafely around them. Also, the campaign aims to educate drivers about the safe driving practices around commercial motor vehicles.
“This campaign reminds all drivers to pay extra attention when driving around commercial vehicles to ensure everyone’s safety,” DMV Commissioner Melody A. Currey said. “It’s important to remember to stay out of a commercial vehicle’s blind spots, also known as the No-Zones, that are located in all four sides of a large truck or bus.”
DMV’s Commercial Vehicle Safety enforcement officers’ patrols and enforcement of large trucks and buses are occurring in high-crash zones, including areas of Routes 91, 95, 84, 395 as well as along local roads. In addition, Operation Safe Driver calls on law enforcement to place added emphasis on texting and other forms of distracted driving, seat belt usage, fatigue and other unsafe driving behaviors.
Driving around large trucks and buses requires presents unique challenges and requires special attention. Here are some basic safety tips for motorists:
Passenger vehicle drivers are reminded to never cut in front of a large truck or bus because it takes longer for these vehicles to stop; keep a safety cushion around commercial motor vehicles (CMVs); never linger alongside a CMV because passenger vehicles can momentarily disappear from view due to blind spots; check a CMV’s mirrors because if you can’t see the driver’s face in its side mirrors, the driver can’t see you; and always allow CMVs adequate space to maneuver because CMVs make wide turns and need additional lanes to turn.
Large truck and bus drivers are reminded to pre-inspect the condition of your vehicle before and check for load securement; maximize the vision around your truck with properly adjusted and clean mirrors; obey speed limits and traffic signs because excessive speed reduces your ability to avoid a crash, extends your vehicle’s stopping distance, and increases the severity of a crash when it occurs; maintain a safe following distance with other vehicles; make only safe and necessary lane changes because lane changes increase one’s risk of an accident; and get enough sleep because sleep deprivation and fatigue can cause lapses in attention, slowed awareness and impaired judgment.
Operation Safe Driver is an initiative of the CVSA that focuses on increasing commercial driver safety performance through enforcement and education. CVSA is an international not-for-profit organization comprised of local, state, provincial, territorial and federal motor carrier safety officials and industry representatives from the United States, Canada, and Mexico.