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Operation Safe Driver: National push to get distracted truck drivers off of the road

Written by Steve Gursten Posted October 24th, 2013

FMCSA, Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and others are gearing up for safety blitz targeting unsafe drivers – before they cause deadly truck or bus accidents

distracted truck driver

Law enforcement officers across the country are gearing up for “Operation Safe Driver.” The initiative is an ambitious safety blitz sweeping the nation to crack down on unsafe driving behaviors. Specifically, the blitz wants to target distracted truck driving.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is sponsoring Operation Safe Driver, with support from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and numerous other organizations.

Distracted driving has long been a major factor in serious truck accidents. As a truck accident lawyer who has personally litigated hundreds of truck cases, I can tell you that distracted driving is one of the most common causes in semi-truck wrecks – right alongside truck driver fatigue.

Statistics indicate that nearly 4,000 people are killed and 100,000 others are injured in semi-truck and bus crashes across the country each year. Most of these crashes are the direct result of unsafe driving — including truckers or bus drivers who are driving distracted.

This is the second installment of initiative. Last year’s safety blitz was highly successful, and this new blitz seeks to build on that success. The initiative targets truck and bus drivers. But the goal is to get all unsafe drivers off the road — not just bad truckers or dangerous bus drivers.

The CVSA has played a major role in getting this initiative off the ground. The group’s President, Thomas Fuller, weighed in:

“[W]e know most of these tragedies are preventable…”

I want to stop right here and say I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Fuller’s statement. Myself, and the other truck accident lawyers at the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, have seen countless instances where people have been seriously hurt or killed in entirely preventable — and sometimes downright dumbfounding — truck accidents. For instance, one of my clients, Chris Norris, lost both of his legs when his car was rear-ended by a truck. The truck driver was reaching for his cell phone and also broke several other FMSCA rules regarding truck maintenance.

It’s truly frustrating to know that with a small degree of care (sometimes even just a minimal effort) the entire truck crash would have prevented.

Mr. Fuller, (who is also a sergeant with the New York State Police) continued:

“[The] CVSA is committed to saving lives and Operation Safe Driver helps us do that. This aggressive, coordinated and far-reaching enforcement effort, coupled with the program’s education and awareness components for drivers of all vehicles, does reduce unsafe and distracted driving behaviors, and that translates to fewer accidents and fatalities. I am pleased to report that this program is growing and we have more outreach events planned than ever before. We commend our member jurisdictions and industry partners for their support of and participation in this important life-saving campaign; together we are making a difference.”

We too commend the CVSA, and the FMCSA, and all others involved, for bringing a large scale project like this together. With initiatives like this aimed at preventing semi-truck accidents – and accident lawyers like myself who strive to vindicate victims and hold bad truck companies accountable when they senselessly hurt people – my hope is that our collective efforts can bring about positive change and make the roads safer for everyone.

Related information:

FMCSA to reevaluate bus safety in wake of deadly bus accidents

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.
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