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Former CVSA President, Mark Savage Shares His Insights on CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week

As the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual Operation Safe Driver Week approaches, it’s time to think driver safety. To provide some insight about what this event, and the CVSA is all about, plus what to expect on the road during the safety event, we caught up with Mark Savage, former CVSA president. Mark most recently served as a CVSA board member up until his retirement from a 26-year career with the Colorado State Patrol last year. Mark has since joined Intelligent Imaging Systems (IIS) and Drivewyze and serves as its Director of Connected Truck Solutions.  

What is the purpose of CVSA events like Operation Safe Driver Week? And why does the CVSA give so much notice about these events and what enforcement officers will be looking for?  

Operation Safe Driver Week and other safety events the CVSA coordinates are truly meant to be a reminder to fleets and drivers to be safe out on the roads. It’s why many safety events are announced in advance, with information on what law enforcement officers will be looking for. The CVSA really isn’t ‘out to get anyone’ or create headaches for fleets and truck and passenger vehicle drivers. The CVSA’s goal is to be as transparent as possible while ensuring safety for all who share the roads throughout North America. 

Sometimes people will get the CVSA confused with law enforcement, who is responsible for issuing citations or conducting inspections during the events, but that isn’t CVSA’s role. The CVSA was created to establish uniformity in how vehicle inspections are conducted throughout North America so that drivers and fleets know what to expect when a vehicle is inspected no matter where a driver happens to be at the time. The CVSA is the ‘facilitator’ for Operation Safe Driver Week and works with local, state, provincial, territorial, and federal motor vehicle safety officials to conduct these events. The data collected helps government agencies and the CVSA benchmark where highway safety is at. 

What can fleets do to prepare for Operation Safe Driver Week? What advice would you give to improve their overall safety? 

The vast majority of fleets already take safety very seriously. And for most, this is just another week for them and it’s business as usual. In this day and age, it isn’t a smart business decision to not prioritize safety, as the consequences for a driver being involved in an incident is only increasing. Plus, with more technology available to help drivers stay safe, insurance providers continue to expect more from fleets in the form of documentation that shows the fleet is doing what it can to keep drivers and equipment safe. That said, there will always be a few fleets or drivers out there that don’t emphasize best safety practices as much as they probably should.  

For those that are interested in learning more about the CVSA, safety events, and what officers are looking for during inspections, and how they’re typically conducted, I highly recommend looking at becoming a CVSA member. It’s a great resource that can help fleets and drivers stay compliant.  

The CVSA selected speeding as this year’s main focus point. Why do you think the CVSA selected speeding, and what should drivers expect out on the road? 

As the CVSA’s Operation Safe Driver Week announcement mentioned, last year there was an uptick in the number of traffic fatalities with an increase of 24% compared to the previous year despite the number of miles driven dropping by 13%. With less traffic on the road last year due to the pandemic and the fact vehicle speed plays a role in a large number of traffic incidents, it makes sense that speeding is the violation of emphasis in the upcoming event.  

During Operation Safe Driver Week, drivers should expect to see a larger patrol presence, especially in areas that are well-documented for having a high collision rate due to speeding. Every state has its high crash areas for speeding, and its likely enforcement officers will focus their attention in these areas, although passenger vehicle drivers are typically the worst offenders. In addition to vehicle speed, law enforcement will be on the lookout for other risky driving behavior like unsafe lane changes, aggressive driving, signs of impairment, and/or fatigue – all reasons a driver may be pulled over.  

While vehicle speed is under the microscope for this event, the reality is speeding has long been a problem on the road. Most people are guilty of doing it every now and then. But it’s serious, and it’s the leading cause for most collisions.      

If a driver is pulled over during Operation Safe Driver Week, what should they expect? What advice would you give to a driver to get through the inspection process as smoothly and quickly as possible? 

The best piece of advice I can give is to stay calm and follow the officers’ instructions. Officers know being pulled over can create a sense of stress. At the end of the day, officers, like truck drivers, have an important job to do and they want you to be safe. The more you can assist law enforcement with what they need, the sooner you will be on your way. If you’re pulled over for speeding or for another traffic violation and show signs of impairment, fatigue, have falsified records, or other serious violations, that will be dealt with accordingly.  

From what you’ve seen during your career in law enforcement, what do you believe is the future in commercial vehicle safety? 

The technology used in the trucking industry has advanced so much – like in most industries – since I entered law enforcement in the 90s. Early in my career, it was much more common to see collisions related to equipment failure. Today’s trucks are much more reliable and equipment failure makes up a small percentage of collisions now. As a result, the number of traffic fatalities has steadily declined since the 80s. Although in recent years, we’ve seen a bit of a plateau in those numbers as equipment failure isn’t much of a concern. Driver-related behavior is now responsible for roughly 87% of all fatalities on the road, so to continue that downward trend, technology designed to help correct and improve driver behavior will need to continue to evolve. And it is. 

Dash cams, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), improved driver training methods, and other safety-related technologies are making a difference. Those products and services, plus future technologies that are introduced is the key to creating safer roads for all. 

Since retiring from law enforcement and joining Drivewyze and IIS, I’ve been involved in developing some really amazing technology that is designed to help improve driving behavior and assist fleets in managing safety programs. Last year Drivewyze launched Drivewyze Safety+, a proactive driver safety service that provides in-cab notifications to drivers of upcoming high-risk areas. The alerts are designed to help prevent accidents, safety incidents, and citations before they happen. One of the latest safety alert additions is actually on high citation areas for speeding.  

With Safety+, drivers that approach an area that is commonly known for a high rate of speed citations will receive a notification through their ELD or smartphone of the upcoming area, encouraging drivers to slow their speed if necessary. So far, Drivewyze has geo-fenced more than 2,800 zones throughout North America that provide drivers with speed and other safety alerts such as high rollover areas and upcoming low bridge notifications.  

To identify high citation for speeding zones, Drivewyze worked with state and provincial agencies to identify ‘problem areas’ for unsafe speeding behavior and areas where speed is a known factor in collisions. What’s more, with Safety+, fleets can proactively create their own custom zones for areas that they’ve identified as a problematic location for drivers with speeding. What’s unique about the custom zones feature is that fleets can create safety notifications for virtually any potential hazard or create important safety reminders for drivers wherever that location may be, in addition to other safety notifications Drivewyze provides.  

All told, the service is proving to be an effective way at reducing speeding events, as well as other driver-related incidents. When Drivewyze tested Safety+ with beta fleets prior to its launch, results showed there was a 27% reduction in speeding events by drivers going 5+ miles over the speed limit. This technology makes a difference – and this service, along with other safety technologies is one step in reducing speeding events and other driver-related incidents.  

Next steps for preparing your fleet

As we come up on Operation Safe Driver Week, remember to keep an eye on your speed and be mindful of drivers you share the road with. And to help your drivers stay alert, we’re offering a free 30-day trial of Speed Alerts, in-cab safety notifications that notify drivers ahead of known speed violation zones, reminding them to slow down so they can avoid citations and safety incidents. Click here to watch a short video on how Speed Alerts and get started with a free trial!