Did you know that the leading cause of vehicle crashes in the United States is unsafe driver behavior? In fact, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) latest Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts report found that at least one driver-related factor was recorded for 32 percent of the large truck drivers involved in fatal crashes. The most frequent driver-related factors included speeding and distraction or inattention.1 To help bring awareness to these and other unsafe driving behaviors, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), in partnership with the FMCSA, launched “Operation Safe Driver Week” in 2007.
Operation Safe Driver Week, taking place July 15-21, 2018, was created to help reduce the number of crashes, deaths and injuries involving large trucks, buses and passenger vehicles due to unsafe driving behaviors. This event aims to help improve the behavior of all drivers operating in an unsafe manner through educational and traffic enforcement strategies to address individuals exhibiting high-risk behaviors. During this week, there is increased monitoring of traffic laws, safety belt compliance, regulatory compliance and roadside inspections.2
In addition to following safe driving practices, there are a number of other ways that fleets can help ensure the safety of their drivers and those on the road with them, such as spec’ing the right equipment features for their operations and properly maintaining their equipment. Check out some more fleet safety tips below.
Innovative Safety Solutions
There are many innovative trailer solutions available that help support safe driving practices and offer additional protection to CMV drivers and those on the road with them. For instance, Great Dane and ASA Electronics introduced the industry’s smallest wireless camera system powered by wireless auto-pairing technology. The rear-mounted camera gives drivers increased awareness of the action behind their rigs on the road, in parking lots and during docking maneuvers to help avoid accidents and increase driver and pedestrian safety. The wireless technology allows the video and audio from the paired camera to be played through the in-cab monitor. The camera’s embedded microphone alerts a driver if a passerby or pedestrian shouts during a backing maneuver, which is beneficial if the driver is not looking at the monitor at that moment. This system provides drivers with a safer rear view that helps protects them and others on the road.
To help ensure greater safety around areas like loading docks and parking lots, Great Dane partnered with Grote to design the ReverseAlert 4-in-1 Back-Up Alarm System. This system features Grote’s integrated lamp that combines all stop, tail, turn and back-up functions into one industry-standard size lamp. The alarm activates when the wheels turn backward, sounding a loud horn to alert those in the area that the vehicle is moving.
For certain applications, air disc brakes can provide many exceptional benefits over traditional drum brakes. Disc brakes can enhance safety by providing shorter stopping distances than drum brakes and improving trailer in-line braking stability. The stopping distance for disc brakes can be 25 to 30 feet less than drum brakes, depending on tires, speed, conditions and the braking system on the tractor. The stopping power is noticeably greater when both the tractor and trailer are equipped with air disc brakes, particularly when the vehicle is traveling at increased speeds.
Another important safety aspect to consider is protecting pedestrians and cyclists who are sharing the road with CMVs. Great Dane has partnered with Volpe to investigate truck side guards. Side guards physically cover the exposed space between the front and rear wheels of a vehicle and are designed to keep pedestrians and cyclists from being run over by the rear wheels in a side impact collision. Volpe is advancing this technology’s adoption by conducting research and partnering with cities to help deploy side guards and other technologies that address pedestrian safety.
Proper pre- and post-trip inspections are key to keeping equipment safe on the road. Something as simple as an inoperable light can not only result in a hefty fine but can also cause unsafe driving conditions. In fact, lights account for almost 30 percent of all CSA violations and often prompt inspectors to perform a more thorough examination of the vehicle, resulting in longer equipment downtime and the risk of heavier fines.3 To help prevent these issues, Great Dane’s FleetPulse telematics system provides a unique pre-trip inspection application that has the ability to detect lights that are out, check the status of the ABS and tire inflation systems, monitor weight, detect open doors and even monitor the wheel end temperature. FleetPulse can also send real-time notifications to alert drivers and fleet managers of critical issues while on the road.
Maintenance Makes a Difference
In addition to pre- and post-trip inspections, proper maintenance is vital to fleet safety. The data collected through FleetPulse’s strategically-placed sensors can help fleets transition away from mileage-based maintenance to predictive maintenance where the sensors on the trailer essentially tell the fleet when a part needs to be replaced or maintenance needs to be performed, optimizing trailer uptime and reducing the risk of unexpected maintenance issues.
When it’s time for regular vehicle maintenance or if an unexpected maintenance issue occurs on the road, Great Dane’s AdvantEDGE Aftermarket Parts and Service Program features more than 100 service locations nationwide and provides 24/7 emergency roadside service. Great Dane’s ASE-accredited service technician program helps ensure safe, consistent and quality workmanship so fleets can be assured their equipment is being maintained by skilled technicians. Overall, the AdvantEDGE program provides members with peace of mind and makes the process of equipment service and maintenance simpler and more streamlined.
 Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts 2016. (2018). Retrieved from: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/safety/data-and-statistics/large-truck-and-bus-crash-facts-2016
 Enforcement Personnel on the Lookout for Unsafe Commercial and Passenger Vehicle Drivers During Operation Safe Driver Week, July 15-21. (2018). Retrieved from: https://cvsa.org/news-entry/2018-osd-week/
 Lighten Up: Cracking Down on Lighting Violations. (2017). Retrieved from: https://www.ccjdigital.com/lighten-up-cracking-down-on-lighting-violations/