safe driving

Summertime doesn’t just make the temperature soar. Other drivers on the road get short-tempered in hot weather, too, increasing the risk for dangerous and aggressive driving behaviors.

The best way to keep your cool is to avoid aggressive driving at all costs by being a defensive driver. And while safe driving should happen all year long, it will be especially important from July 7 – 13 during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual Operation Safe Driver Week. This year, law enforcement personnel in the U.S., Canada and Mexico will be on the lookout for reckless, careless or otherwise dangerous driving. What does that mean?

Reckless driving is driving with willful or blatant disregard for the safety of people or property.

Careless or dangerous driving is driving without reasonable consideration for other motorists or people on the road or otherwise driving in an unsafe manner placing yourself and others at risk of injury.

Whenever law enforcement personnel see the signs of reckless, careless or dangerous driving, they’ll pull you over. Last year, a total of 5,756 warnings and 4,494 citations were issued during Operation Safe Driver Week.

Don’t run the risk of a citation or accident. Avoid these top 5 dangerous driving behaviors:

1. Speeding: Always drive at or below the posted speed limit. Slow down even further during storms or while driving on rain-soaked roads.

Speeding was a factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities in 2018, killing 9,378 people. (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, NHTSA)

2. Distracted driving: Avoid anything that takes your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel, even for a second! This includes talking or texting on a phone, using dispatch devices, eating, reading, adjusting the radio, or looking at passing billboards, buildings or people.

Distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019. (NHTSA)

3. Drunk or drugged driving: Never operate any vehicle, including CMV’s, while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other banned substances. When you get caught, you will be disqualified from driving.

Drunk driving claims the lives of 1 person every 52 minutes. (NHTSA)

4. Following too closely: Maintain a following distance of one second for each 10 feet of vehicle length. Add a second if you’re driving over 40 mph.

Rear-end crashes account for 29% of all crashes. (NHTSA)

5. Not wearing a seat belt: Federal law requires CMV drivers to always wear seat belts. They remain one of the cheapest, easiest ways to protect yourself behind the wheel.

Seat belts saved 14,955 lives in 2017 alone. (NHTSA)

A few other risky driving behaviors to avoid: Changing lanes frequently, not using turn signals while changing lanes, disobeying traffic signs, cutting off other motorists and falling asleep while driving.

No matter where your routes take you this holiday season (over the river and through the woods?), you’ll likely run into more than just Santa Claus on his sleigh.

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Speeding alone has caused more than one-quarter of all deaths from motor vehicle accidents since 2008, according to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Prepare for the presence of law enforcement. Follow these six best practices and take a giant step toward avoiding warnings, citations or accidents on the road every week of the year.

1. Drive under the posted speed limit. Excessive speed is the most frequent driver-related crash factor in CMVs and passenger cars, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

2. Keep your eyes on the road. Don’t use a cell phone while driving; avoid distractions like eating or changing radio stations. Distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in 2021, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

3. Wear your seatbelt. It’s the law in all 50 states. Seatbelts save nearly 15,000 lives each year on average, says NHTSA.

4. Avoid alcohol or drugs. Drunk driving alone caused 13,384 deaths in 2021, says NHTSA.

5. Check your aggression. Law enforcement officers will look for tailgating, improper lane changes, improper passing and other aggressive driving behaviors. And remember to always drive defensively.

6. Follow the rules of the road. Watch for work zone speed limits, stop signs and stoplights, pedestrian crossings and other traffic control devices, and always obey them.

What hazards will this winter bring to commercial motor vehicle drivers? While nobody knows for sure how bad each winter may be, many include plenty of snow, rain and mush, along with cold temperatures in parts of the U.S.

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Accidents happen! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) most recent Traffic Safety Facts report, about 523,796 large trucks were involved in police-reported crashes in 2021. Those accidents led to over 154,000 injuries and more than 5,700 deaths.

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