Whether commuting to/from work, driving your children to school or practice, running errands, traveling, or operating a vehicle as part of your job, most of us use and drive a motor vehicle everyday.
Unfortunately, automobile accidents are a common occurrence because of the number of vehicles on the road, errors made by drivers, distracted drivers, impaired drivers, weather conditions, etc.
Whether driving your personal or university vehicle, a driver’s primary concern is the safe operation of the vehicle. The university requires all employees who operate a university vehicle to have at least two years of driving experience and a valid driver’s license with a classification which corresponds to the type of vehicle to be driven. In addition, drivers must have completed the Rutgers Defensive Driving Course (http://rues.rutgers.edu/defense.shtml ) and pass a vision test.
Common Causes of Accidents
Some common causes of accidents include the following:
- Distracted Driving – talking on a cell phone, texting, eating, reading, etc. Estimates place distracted driving as a factor in 25-30% of all accidents
- Aggressive Driving – excessive speed, tailgating, passing on the right, etc.
- Impaired Drivers – alcohol, illegal drug and medication use. Approximately 40% of all fatal car accidents involve alcohol use
- Fatigued Driving – fatigue driving causes more than 100,000 accidents per year
- Young Drivers – most likely to engage in risky driving behaviors (speeding, impaired, aggressive, etc.)
According to the NHTSA, driver distraction (i.e. talking on a cell phone, eating, drinking, applying cosmetics, etc.) was a contributing cause in 20-30% of all accidents. Some other facts to consider:
- Cell phone users are 4 times more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes
- Risks are the same whether using hand-held or hands-free devices
- Drivers who are texting, take their eyes off the road 400% more than when they are not texting
- 10% of all drivers are using their cell phones while driving in the daytime. This means that 974,000 drivers are using a cell phone at any given time
- Several employers have been sued for accidents caused by employees using cell phones
Seat Belts and Car Seats
Seat belts save lives! Lap-shoulder belt systems reduce the risk of fatality and serious injury by 50% when used by drivers and front-seat passengers. Air bags are designed to be used with seat belts. By themselves, they are only 12% effective at reducing deaths.
New Jersey law requires all occupants to buckle up, regardless of their seating position in a vehicle. Children under the age of 8 or 80 pounds must be in an approved car or booster seat. Children should sit in the rear seat of the vehicle.
You can have your child safety seat checked and receive educational materials at designated locations throughout the state, including the Middlesex County Child Safety Seat Inspection Station on the Rutgers campus at:
- Fire Station -129 Davidson Rd., Piscataway, NJ
Hours: Wednesdays 7 - 11am, Thursdays 3 - 7 pm
and the first Saturday of each month 9 am to 12:00 pm. For information please visit http://publicsafety.rutgers.edu/rupd/inspections.shtml
- For additional locations, please visit http://www.state.nj.us/oag/hts/childseats/childseatchecks.html
Vehicle Exhaust and Idling
To reduce air pollutants and comply with federal and state laws, gasoline and diesel powered motor vehicles are prohibited from idling for more than 3 minutes when not in motion. This includes emergency vehicles when not actively involved in emergency work.
How Can You Be a Safe Driver?
- Ensure that your vehicle is in good working order (i.e. breaks, tires, lights, etc.)
- Don’t drink and drive
- Avoid distractions, such as talking on your cell phone, drinking, eating, etc.
- Don’t use a cell phone or text while driving. If you need to use the phone, pull over in a safe spot (i.e. parking lot, rest area, etc.)
- Follow all regulations and posted signs, be courteous, be aware of your surroundings, and drive defensively
- Take a defensive driving course. You are required to attend the Rutgers Defensive Driving Course if operating a university vehicle.
- Use appropriate precautions while driving in inclement weather
- The majority of accidents involving university vehicles are the result of drivers backing into fixed objects (other vehicles, bollards, signs, loading docks, etc.). Prior to backing up, inspect the area behind your vehicle. If you have a passenger, use them as a spotter.
For additional information, please visit the following websites:
- University policy on vehicle use at http://policies.rutgers.edu/PDF/Section20/20.1.6-current.pdf
- National Safety Council at http://www.nsc.org
- New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety at http://www.state.nj.us/oag/hts/
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/