A trucking industry leader is calling on police to put more emphasis on traffic enforcement, even if it means taking resources away from roadside inspections.
According to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration data, traffic enforcement has been falling in relation to other types of enforcement, says Phil Byrd, president of Bulldog Highway Express and first vice chairman of American Trucking Associations.
In remarks scheduled today at a Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance meeting in Louisville, Ky., Byrd says on-road traffic enforcement is the best way to improve safety.
CVSA provides a forum for police officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico, as well as industry representatives, to set North American truck safety enforcement policies.
Byrd says a 2011 FMCSA study found traffic enforcement coupled with roadside inspections three times more effective than just roadside vehicle inspections in reducing crashes, fatalities and injuries.
Byrd says he recognizes that it will not be easy for the enforcement community to change its approach.
“Migrating from a culture of examining vehicle components and driver credentials to directly addressing unsafe driver behavior will require some jurisdictions to make tough decisions,” he says.
“It may mean a shift of resources and personnel. But I hope you agree, we need to acknowledge that doing so is right and necessary.”
Byrd adds that police should put more effort into curtailing the bad habits of car drivers.
He says ATA data show that car drivers are at fault in about 70% of fatal car-truck crashes. The disparity may be related to higher levels of alcohol impairment among car drivers, he said: 31% of all traffic deaths result from crashes in which the driver was impaired, while the truck driver was impaired in 2% of fatal crashes.
Other factors may be the higher population of younger and older people in cars, and the stricter licensing barriers for truck drivers, he said.
"Changing the unsafe behaviors that cause the majority of truck-involved crashes must play a greater role in (federal) programs if we are to achieve the safety outcomes we all want,” he says.
The trucking industry, for its part, must emphasize defensive driving and consider adopting safety technologies such as blind-spot detection, forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control, Byrd says.