Last year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) announced its support of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Roadway Safety Strategy (NRSS) to address the crisis of deaths on our nation’s roadways. A year later, as we commemorate the anniversary of the National Roadway Safety Strategy’s launch, CVSA remains committed to eliminating crashes, fatalities and injuries on our highways, roads and streets.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s recently released report, 31,785 people died in traffic crashes in the first nine months of 2022.
“Traffic crashes cost tens of thousands of American lives a year – national crisis on our roadways – and everyone has an important role to play in addressing it,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Today we are issuing a national call to action and asking all Americans – including private industry, non-profit and advocacy organizations and every level of government – to join us in acting to save lives on our roadways.”
In response to this crisis, CVSA is dedicated to the ambitious, yet attainable, goal of reaching zero roadway fatalities. The Alliance has already implemented several programs and initiatives to support that mission.
Until we meet and maintain the goal of zero roadway fatalities, crashes are still happening. CVSA has created post-crash training and certification for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) law enforcement personnel. Understanding why a crash occurred helps states and federal agencies to structure programs that reduce crashes and save lives. Accurate post-crash inspection data is critical to understanding the cause(s) of a crash. CVSA will deliver post-crash training courses throughout the U.S. to improve the quality and consistency of post-crash inspections and reporting, resulting in better data for safety officials to rely on when crafting data-driven safety programs.
Research shows that traffic tickets and officer interactions impact driver behavior. Unfortunately, currently, many officers who are not certified CMV inspectors do not feel comfortable stopping a CMV, even when they observe unsafe driving behaviors, because they are not trained on the regulatory requirements of a CMV. However, all officers have the authority to issue a citation to a CMV driver for unsafe driving behavior. CVSA will deliver CMV traffic-enforcement training to non-certified law enforcement officers. This training will provide officers with the information and confidence needed to stop CMVs. This will help increase enforcement of unsafe driving behaviors, which is the leading cause of crashes on our roadways.
Masking occurs when a court changes a commercial driver’s license holder’s traffic violation to a different infraction, allows a driver to enter into a diversion program, or defers, dismisses or does not accurately report the conviction of a driver for a traffic violation. CVSA will help educate lawyers, judges and others involved with the judicial process to understand that although lowering the severity of a charge may seem like a fair thing to do, it can have dangerous consequences. Masking a driver’s serious violation with lesser charges gives an incorrect safety record and allows dangerous drivers, who might otherwise be disqualified from operating a CMV, to remain on the roadways. CVSA’s training and outreach will help lawyers and judges understand the importance of ensuring the charges on a driver’s record are accurate and reflect the severity or seriousness of the infraction.
These three initiatives combined are designed to prevent crashes by influencing driver behavior with active traffic enforcement and holding drivers accountable when they do act unsafely. And, when crashes do occur, these initiatives will help us gain a better understanding of the cause(s), which will result in better-informed roadway safety programs.
“Roadway deaths are preventable and unacceptable,” said CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney. “CVSA will continue to partner with the U.S. DOT to advance its National Roadway Safety Strategy and the Safe System Approach.”