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Driving any vehicle can present increased risk not only to the driver, but to any passengers, pedestrian, and community members.

  • Drivers and all passengers should wear their seat belts.
  • Mobile phones, or other electrical devices must be operated via a hands-free device – required by Virginia law as of July 1, 2014.  Any other use such as text messaging or emailing is prohibited while the vehicle is in drive and/or in motion.
  • Be careful in parking lots and parking garages – be aware of other moving and parked vehicles while pulling in or backing up. Be mindful of fixed objects such as poles, barriers, parking gates and walls.  Check the clearance requirements for vehicles in parking garages.
  • Don’t follow too closely – keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the car ahead.
  • Always use caution when changing lanes.  Cutting in front of someone, changing lanes too fast or not using your signals may cause an accident.
  • Be extra careful in bad weather such as fog, heavy rain, snow or icy conditions.  Drive below the speed limit if necessary, maintain extra space between you and the car ahead and be careful around curves.

Distracted driving is a major contributing factor to crashes, which are a leading cause of death for the US population under 35 years of age. Per the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute,

The top distractions are:

  • Driver inattention, due to fatigue
  • Texting while driving, particularly by inexperienced drivers

Driving is a visual task and non-driving activities that draw the driver's eyes away from the roadway (such as texting, dialing, and use of a laptop or dispatching device to perform complex tasks) should always be avoided.

Naturalistic driving studies, such as the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP 2)Naturalistic Teen Driving Study, Canada Naturalistic Driving Study, and Supervised Practice Driving Study, have shown that text messaging using a cell phone is associated with the highest risk of all sources of distraction. The Driver Distraction in Commercial Vehicle Operations study found that texting while driving raises a driver's crash risk by 23 times.

Texting is not the only distraction to be a cause for concern; many other activities can take a driver's eyes and attention off of the road. VTTI research has determined that the following secondary tasks drivers engage in can put them at higher risk for crashes or near crashes:

  • Eating and drinking
  • Personal grooming
  • Talking to passengers (newly licensed teens have a little higher risk while adults are safer drivers engaging in this activity)
  • Reading
  • Watching a video
  • Browsing the internet
  • Adjusting the radio or climate controls
  • Talking on the phone (hands-free does not increase risk)

The Virginia Tech Tranportation Institute has a robust site that provides detailed guidance on tips for sharing the road with large and heavy commercial vehicles.

Every day about 9 people are killed, and over 1,000 are injured, in crashes involving a distracted driver.

The Heads Up Hokies campaign encourages Hokies and community members traveling across campus on foot, by bike, e-scooter, bus, or car to keep their heads up, act predictably, and pay attention to their surroundings. This is particularly important in shared road spaces (those supporting multiple modes of transportation), because of the additional types of interactions that can occur.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has provided guidelines around University use of third party buses for transporting larger numbers of people. You can use this Blank Bus Use Agreement Form if this is something you are considering, and please reach out to Risk Management with any questions.