Law enforcement agencies across North America are actively targeting unsafe commercial truck and bus drivers this week during Operation Safe Driver, a program sponsored by Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Countless lives are tragically lost every day across North America as a result of distracted driving, speeding and aggressive behaviors, according to CVSA. These unsafe drivers in all types of vehicles account for nearly 9 out of 10 fatal crashes. Operation Safe Driver was created to raise safety awareness among commercial drivers and the motoring public.

The program includes increasing activities related to commercial vehicle traffic enforcement; safety belt enforcement; driver roadside safety inspections; driver regulatory compliance; implementation of commercial driver educational and awareness programs to the motor carrier population; and raising awareness to teens and the motoring public about safe operations around trucks and buses.

Two media events, one in Yonkers, NY, on Oct. 15, and another in Harrison, AR, on Oct. 16, highlighted the importance of driving safely and without distractions, particular for teenage drivers. In addition, PSAs are running all week on radio stations in the three metropolitan regions where the most truck and bus crashes occur, specifically, New York-New Jersey-Long Island, Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, and Chicago-Joliet-Naperville.

“The driving task is becoming more challenging each and every day for all of us that are on the road,” said Major Mark Savage of the Colorado State Patrol, CVSA’s president. “It is critically important that all drivers keep their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road and their minds in the game,” he explained.

“Driver behavior is the single most important factor in preventing crashes,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “We are joining forces with our law enforcement partners during this stepped-up mobilization to remind truck and bus drivers, and all motorists who share the road with them, to play it safe. After all, safe roads start with safe drivers.”

Operation Safe Driver Program Chair Brian Neal, of FedEx Ground, said “Operation Safe Driver is a call to action to step up our commitment for defeating distracted driving. Too many lives are being lost and all of us need to pull together to engage in this effort.”

In addition, Operation Safe Driver continues to build on its highly successful series of educational programs geared to specific audiences and the most prevalent unsafe driving behaviors. The Teens & Trucks Training Program was launched in 2009-10 to help educate young drivers about safe driving practices around commercial vehicles. In 2010-11, Defeating Distracted Driving was introduced to educate truck and bus drivers about the dangers of distracted driving for use by fleets, driving schools and other outlets.

This year, the program is releasing the Teens & Trucks: Curbing Distracted Driving curriculum. This update to the Teens & Trucks curriculum teaches teen drivers how to adapt many of the same tactics used by professional truck drivers to reduce or eliminate on-road distractions. CVSA, with funding support from FMCSA and in partnership with the Arizona Transportation Education Foundation and Arizona Dept. of Public Safety, has developed these programs to help provide tools to enhance safe driving practices to curb these deadly behaviors.

To access the Operation Safe Driver electronic toolkit, go to http://www.operationsafedriver.org.