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CMV Safety Summit Promotes Best Practices and Partnerships

Posted: Oct 11, 2021

By Dr. Brenda Lantz, Associate Director, North Dakota State University, Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute

The second Western Regional Commercial Vehicle (CMV) Safety Summit was held May 25-26 in Denver, Colorado. It brought together approximately 230 representatives from law enforcement and driver licensing agencies, universities, and industry to share research and best practices to improve data quality and the collection and use of CMV data, with the ultimate goal of improving highway safety.

The summit highlighted ways states have worked to improve data quality, improve the ways they collect data, and/or new ways they are using the data to improve commercial vehicle safety. The North Dakota State University (NDSU), Upper Great Plains Transportation Institute (UGPTI) hosted the event with the Colorado State Patrol. Funding was provided through a cooperative agreement with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Participants from across the country participated in the hybrid event either online or in person.

Representatives from agencies and universities in each state and territory in the FMCSA western region provided information on current projects and partnerships, topics of interest, and innovative approaches they have implemented. The agenda was developed based on these inputs, and included the following sessions:

  • state-specific examples of best practices,
  • resources and tools readily available to states,
  • current research and partnerships, and
  • a roundtable discussion of state-specific issues.

In addition, an opening session focused on the impact and lessons learned from COVID-19 with federal, state, and industry perspectives. Representatives from FMCSA also provided updates regarding rulemakings and current programs, and were available for questions and discussion.

The summit emphasized partnerships with universities and the capabilities universities have to assist agencies. These capabilities include conducting data analysis and evaluation, building tools to visualize data, helping to develop innovative strategies, leading training efforts, and/or organizing and hosting an event such as the summit to bring together various stakeholders in the state or region.

Representatives from a number of agencies and universities provided presentations and information at the summit including from two North Dakota agencies — Brad Schaffer, the Driver's License Division Director for the ND Department of Transportation (DOT); and Lt. Dave Wolf, Regional Commander, and Lt. Adam Dvorak, Assistant Operations Commander for Motor Carrier Operations with the North Dakota Highway Patrol (NDHP).

Mr. Schaffer presented information at the Best Practices and Innovative Processes session and discussed process improvements they have implemented to enhance conviction reporting in North Dakota. Specifically, they were having problems meeting the 10-day reporting requirement to report convictions to the Commercial Driver's License Information System (CDLIS). Reporting delays are a concern because they could enable CDL holders convicted of disqualifying offenses to continue driving without being detected. The NDDOT researched the root cause of the issue and found that the system used by the courts could not handle out-of-state license classes (a mandatory field for reporting to CDLIS) and that license class was not a mandatory field for the system used in-state. Working with the vendors and multiple stakeholders, the team made the license class a mandatory field for the in-state system and created a separate database to capture out-of-state license classes. These changes drastically improved their conviction reporting numbers to CDLIS.

Lt. Wolf and Lt. Dvorak presented information in the Roundtable Discussion of State Issues session regarding issues in the ND oilfield areas with commercial vehicle-related crashes. Lt. Wolf gave a brief history of the Bakken Shale Formation and how it peaked in 2012 with 217 drilling rigs (currently there are only 15 rigs). Each rig produces 125 full-time jobs. Crashes and fatalities have also increased substantially in the oilfield counties because of the increased passenger and commercial vehicle traffic servicing the rigs and wells, out-of-state workers unaware of driving habits in inclement weather, and the large amount of county roadways engineered for old traffic patterns and not patrolled by the NDHP because of limited available staffing. Lt. Wolf discussed the factors related to crashes and injuries in the oilfield regions and noted that they include speeding, failure to yield, seatbelt usage, distracted driving, and driving too fast for conditions. They are implementing a number of strategies to reduce crashes including routinely visiting trucking companies to provide education, ad campaigns, radio appearances, social media, and partnering with the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association to conduct safety seminars. They also work closely with the NDDOT to plan new inspection sites and improve signs for drivers. Lt. Dvorak added to the discussion indicating how they want to dig deeper into the data. For example, he would like to determine why a driver was driving too fast for conditions. Were they an inexperienced driver? Was there a problem with the roadway? Was the driver in a hurry? Identifying this additional information may lead to more targeted strategies to reduce crashes.

NDSU-UGPTI has established a Commercial Vehicle Safety Center that serves as a point of contact for universities, law enforcement, and driver licensing agencies seeking assistance to establish partnerships to improve commercial vehicle safety. The center also hosts webinars and maintains a resources page with articles and reports related to commercial vehicle safety. In addition, all of the videos and presentations from both the 2021 and 2018 Commercial Vehicle Safety Summits are accessible through the site.

View the Summer 2021 issue of Rolling Along

NDSU Dept 2880P.O. Box 6050Fargo, ND 58108-6050