Eye on the driver

FMCSA's Traffic Enforcement (TE) Program continues to be a major component of the agency's truck safety enforcement effort. Data for 2004 show that 803,000 roadside inspections were funded through the TE program, resulting in 250,000 moving violations that were uploaded to the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) database. This represents a significant increase in activity since I first

FMCSA's Traffic Enforcement (TE) Program continues to be a major component of the agency's truck safety enforcement effort. Data for 2004 show that 803,000 roadside inspections were funded through the TE program, resulting in 250,000 moving violations that were uploaded to the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) database.

This represents a significant increase in activity since I first wrote about the program three years ago, when 567,000 inspections led to 202,000 moving violation citations.

According to FMCSA, the TE Program involves the following:

  • Identification of one or more of 21 aggressive and/or dangerous driver violations;

  • Stopping the vehicle on the roadside;

  • Conducting an appropriate driver (Level III;) or walkaround (Level II) roadside inspection;

  • Citing the violation(s) and taking appropriate enforcement action.



A summary of data for 2002-2004 was recently published on FMCSA's Analysis and Investigation web site, http://ai.volpe.dot.gov/ProgramMeasures/TE/TE.asp. Included are national and state-by-state inspection analyses, as well as the nature and extent of specific moving violation categories.

The six most frequent violations, representing over 97% of all moving violation citations, are listed below. For each violation, the percentage of total violations for 2002-2004 is compared to that of the previous time period (1998-2000).

  • Speeding: 76.4% in most recent analysis vs 84.9% in previous time frame;

  • Failure to obey traffic warning device: 12.2% vs. 7.7%

  • Following too closely: 3.1% vs. 3.3%

  • Improper lane change: 3.2% vs. 2.3%

  • Improper passing: 1.2% vs. 0.7%

  • Use/possession of drugs/alcohol: 1.2% vs. 0.9%



The state-by-state analysis reveals that the top five reporting states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee and Washington) still account for about 36% of all reported moving violations. But adding data from just Georgia, Louisiana and New Mexico brings us to 51.6% of all reported violations.

There have been some changes in specific positions on the list, however. Illinois has moved to No. 1 from No. 49. That state reported 22,000 moving violations during 2002-2004, a considerable jump from the 500 reported in 1998-2000. California saw a similar change, moving from just over 200 reports of moving violations in 1998-2000 to 14,200 in 2002-2004.

These findings confirm that FMCSA and the “funded states” are now fully invested in using TE Program on-road inspections as part of their truck safety enforcement efforts. Given that environment, it's critical that you understand the program and share the recent data with your drivers and their supervisors.

My guess is that the emphasis on driver-related enforcement efforts will only increase. FMCSA Administrator Annette Sandberg reinforced this assessment when she noted in a recent speech that the agency's “Large Truck Crash Causation Study” indicates that driver factors are up to 10 times more likely to be listed as the crash-causing event than either vehicle or environmental factors.

More about that study in an upcoming column.




Jim York is the manager of Zurich Service Corp.'s Risk Engineering Transportation Team, based in Schaumburg, IL.

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