Despite COVID-19 reducing roadway congestion due to event cancellation and work-from-home efforts, law enforcement has been issuing a disproportionately high number of speeding tickets.
To focus on this issue, transportation agencies held their annual Operation Safe Driver Week in mid-July to promote speeding prevention and driver safety. This program resulted in visible highway patrol initiatives and increased pullovers for offenders. Even with this initiative, speeding will likely continue to be a main transportation issue during COVID-19.
What is Operation Safe Driver Week?
Operation Safe Driver Week is an annual initiative from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) meant to promote roadway safety. The program aims to prevent dangerous driving behavior and reduce driving accidents through education and enforcement efforts. Each year, the CVSA selects an overarching issue to highlight.
Since data indicates that speeding has been on the rise during the coronavirus outbreak, this year’s focus was on speeding prevention and enforcement. This helped unite North American transportation safety efforts to lead a larger, cohesive campaign to help keep drivers safe.
The program was started to help reduce preventable vehicle crashes, injuries and deaths caused by unsafe driving behavior. The CVSA works closely with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to implement strategies that target dangerous driving. These include education and roadway enforcement initiatives meant to intercept dangerous drivers before they hurt someone. Although the roadway enforcement initiative uses tickets and other similar enforcement measures, the main objective is increased awareness.
With drivers’ actions causing up to 94% of all traffic crashes, it is critical to stop dangerous driving as early as possible.
Why Has There Been a Rise in Speeding?
The rise in speeding can be attributed to a variety of factors. First, fewer vehicles means that cars have more open roads in front of them. Also, drivers may feel less danger in exceeding posted speed limits and have fewer barriers to do so with a faster flow of traffic.
To this point, drivers have the opportunity to drive recklessly with the false sense of less danger. Revving their engine to the max may provide the thrill they cannot achieve during life under lockdown, making speeding a means of recreation.
These COVID-19 restrictions, however, do not mean speed enforcement is down. Both law enforcement and radar monitors are working through the pandemic to keep roads safe. Speeding violators will still be caught and ticketed.
How Did Operation Safe Driver Week Address Speeding?
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 shutdown hindered the CVSA’s ability to meet young drivers in the classroom. Young drivers are prone to dangerous driving mistakes and may be more likely to speed than older age groups. Typically, CVSA and its partners meet in-person with teenagers to teach informed driving techniques. Without this ability, the program had to rely on less-direct education methods and enforcement procedures.
With that being said, the initiative likes to focus its efforts on raising awareness through education. In a year without such in-person luxuries, the CVSA has had to rely more on warnings and citations to help get its message across. Ticketing speeders may not be a popular strategy among violators, but the program says that is a better alternative than a crash that injures or kills someone on the road. Ultimately, there are a few ways to change dangerous behavior before it is too late, and ticketing is an integral part of forcing that change.
The initiative also helped drivers recognize potential dangerous driving issues by coordinating safety inspections. The overarching goal is to promote driving safety, so these inspections help motorists identify potential problems before they occur, saving them and those around them from possible danger. While the program had some limitations due to the coronavirus outbreak, it continued to deliver various tactics to promote speeding safety awareness.
Additional focus was given to ticketing other dangerous behaviors like distracted driving, reckless driving, impaired driving, tailgating, improper lane changes, and seatbelt violations.
Driving Safety Tips
To help stem speeding accidents, the CVSA offers these safety tips:
- Watch out for and obey all speed limit signs and note construction areas
- Keep an open eye out on the road for potential obstacles at least 4 seconds ahead of you
- Use cruise control to regulate your speed, when possible
- Monitor other drivers and their driving behavior
- Leave earlier so that you have extra time to reach your destination
Further tips for preventing highway accidents, injuries and deaths:
- Wear a seatbelt and make sure all passengers are properly fastened when driving
- Plan your trip ahead of time and constantly monitor any changes in weather conditions
- Make all necessary adjustments (mirror, GPS) before hitting the road and avoid distractions (eating, texting, and changing the radio) while driving
- Only make necessary lane changes and always be sure to signal and check your mirrors when shifting lane
What’s Next After Operation Safe Driver Week?
Although the initiative certainly dissuades some drivers from continuing dangerous driving behavior, speeding will remain an issue, especially during times of lighter travel. This means that Operation Safe Driver Week may signal a longer speeding enforcement period.
“Operation Safe Driver Week may indicate law enforcement’s increased efforts to control speeding issues during the pandemic,” says Attorney Lauren Carroll of Commonwealth Law Group. “This could mean more pullovers, warnings and tickets for drivers.”
With that potential, Lauren Carroll expects a rise in ticket defense clients. Transportation agencies and highway patrol units may be more stringent in enforcing traffic violations. For this reason, anyone fighting a ticket needs to find an experienced ticket attorney to review a claim.
Overall, Operation Safe Driver Week has had different implications for drivers. During the initiative, some drivers proactively learned the value of safe driving and others were ticketed. In the weeks and months that follow, these enforcement efforts may continue and result in more tickets to the displeasure of violators. This factor makes the initiative less popular with citizens.
Still, the overarching goal for Operation Safe Driver Week is to reduce the number of preventable accidents, motorist injuries, and highway deaths. Education and proactive measures may be the best way to go, but may not reach the most dangerous drivers. As such, these ticketing efforts may be essential to ultimately stem preventable roadway accidents. To avoid trouble on the roadways, be mindful of your speed and surroundings at all times. As the CVSA says, “Late won’t kill you, speeding will.”