Campus Safety: Nine Tips for Safe Driving

Posted: March 27, 2024 | Author: Fae Dutson | Read Time: 5 minutes

Students walking across a campus crosswalkHaving a car can be a total lifesaver! Getting to and from class or work, going out with friends or even making a trip to the grocery store only takes up a small fraction of your day, but can have the largest impact on your future if not done so safely. Drivers should always take caution and obey traffic safety, no matter their age or driving history. Southern Utah University has a versatile campus that suits both drivers and walkers, so it’s important for everyone to use the safest practices possible behind the wheel to protect themselves, other drivers and the pedestrians around them.

Stay Alert for Pedestrians

College campuses are high-traffic areas, especially at the top of the hour when many students and faculty are making their way to and from class. Be aware of people walking around your vehicle. While you may be paying attention, pedestrians may be on their phones, listening to music, using a small-form mode of transportation like a skateboard or a bike, etcetera. Pedestrians always have the right of way, so yield to them and take a few extra seconds to make sure they get where they need safely. Always check your blind spots before turning or changing lanes, being mindful of both cars and pedestrians. 

Only Drop Off Where You Should!

When picking up or dropping off passengers around campus, use designated loading zones or parking lots. Do not pull off to the side of the road to let passengers out of the vehicle or pick up passengers, especially not in the bike lane. Again, it may take longer to find a safe loading zone, but being cautious is always worth the few extra seconds. 

Slow Down During Bad Weather

Whether it’s a sprinkle of rain or a blizzard, it’s always best to reduce speed while driving in dangerous weather conditions. The roads are slick and your tires have less traction, so if you are in an emergency and need to break, it will take longer for your car to come to a complete stop. Going too fast while driving on a wet or icy road is dangerous for you, other drivers and pedestrians alike.

Be Extra Cautious at Night

It’s hard to see in the dark, especially when you’re trying to spot people and objects while you’re driving. Of course, cars have headlights to help improve seeing conditions, but they only go so far. If you’re not paying attention or going too fast while driving at night, it may be too late to hit the brakes or steer out of harm’s way by the time you finally see someone or something.

Always Yield to Pedestrians, Especially in Crosswalks and Intersections

Pedestrians always have the right of way, and you are required to yield to them every time they cross in front of you. The most important thing to remember is that they must be completely out of the crossing zone or reasonably out of harm’s way before you can continue. Someone may drop something and turn around for it, stop for a car in another lane or have another reason to backtrack. This includes pedestrians in crosswalks that you are turning onto. On top of that, never pass a car that is stopped at a crosswalk. Odds are, they are waiting for someone to pass or are aware of something that you are not. It’s always safer to wait.

Never Drive Under the Influence

Driving while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any other mental inhibitor is not only illegal, but it is inconsiderate and extremely dangerous to those around you. Your decision-making, thought processes and safety gauges are slowed or impacted, so it is never safe to try to drive while impaired. Even if you “feel fine” or the drive is short, have a sober person that you trust see you home, use a rideshare app or wait until you are no longer intoxicated to get behind the wheel.

Obey All Traffic Lights and Signals

Running a red light is never worth the risk. The extra minute or two that it takes to wait for traffic to circle back to you costs you much less than a collision caused by a second of impatience. When you see a light turn yellow, slow down. Don’t push yellow arrows on left turns, as this is where most accidents happen in intersections. If there are still people turning in the intersection when your light turns green, give them ample time to turn safely. 

Never Text and Drive

There are a multitude of things that can distract you while driving, but your phone is likely the biggest culprit. Glancing down for even a few seconds to read a text, send one back or even change the song that’s playing can change your life for the worse. According to Utah’s Department of Public Safety, there were 27,514 car crashes in Utah alone caused by distracted driving between 2017 and 2021. 31% of those were young adults twenty or younger– likely a lot of people in college. (You can learn more about distracted driving reports here.) That being said, shut your phone off while driving and curate your playlist before you put your car in drive. It could save your life.

Don’t Wear Headphones While Driving

Whether they be earbuds or over-the-head headphones, do not wear something that is going to decrease your driving awareness while on the road. People don’t really think about how much your sense of hearing contributes to driving safety; from being able to hear a car coming up next to you in your blindspot to knowing when to pull over because an emergency vehicle’s sirens are ringing from behind. You also need to know when people are honking so you can stay alert and avoid danger. Listen to music using your car’s sound system at a safe, moderate volume.

That being said, make sure to be cautious when driving, no matter where you are. Attentive driving is crucial with large groups of people and vehicles navigating campus. It’s always worth it to slow down, pay attention, and take a little extra time to keep the people around you safe– you never know when a few seconds can make a difference in someone’s life.

Tags: Cedar City Campus CurStu SUU Police Community

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