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Get Back Into the Seatbelt Habit
Here’s how it should feel: secure, safe and familiar. It is easy enough to feel that way. Whenever you get into a car, just buckle your seatbelt. Unfortunately, too many of us don’t. Here’s what we know:
Seatbelts save lives. About 40,000 people die each year in car accidents, the leading cause of death for people under the age of 35. Seatbelts can prevent death in about half of these accidents. Even short trips and lower speeds are risky. 80% of traffic fatalities occur within 25 miles of home and less than 40 miles an hour.
It is easy to overlook everyday risk, but faculty, staff and students do have accidents—good drivers and bad. University vehicles are involved in about 150 accidents each year. About 2-3 of them result in a serious injury to UNC staff. Seatbelts reduce the severity of injuries.
It’s the law. In North Carolina, police officers—including UNC Public Safety—can and do issue tickets and a $25 fine to drivers and passengers who are not wearing a seat belt. Any vehicle, any time.
Too many of us fail to use a seatbelt. Only 71% of drivers and passengers in the U.S. use their seatbelts, while North Carolina's "Click It or Ticket" program has raised seatbelt usage to over 80% here. Still, seatbelt usage is over 90% in Australia, Germany, France, Canada and the United Kingdom—and those countries have much lower traffic fatality rates. You need to use a seat belt even in cars with air bags. Although air bags increase the effectiveness of a seatbelt by 40 percent, they were never meant to be used without a seatbelt.
On campus, UNC Public Safety officers regularly observe drivers and passengers who are not wearing a seat belt. Campus visitors notice when employees drive UNC vehicles while not wearing their seatbelts. They point out our poor example.
You can change that. When you get into a car—before you do anything else—get in the habit of buckling up. Tie a ribbon on your wiper knob as a reminder. Set a good example. In a few weeks it’ll feel strange to sit in a car not while wearing a seat belt. That’s how it should feel.
For more information, contact Environment, Health and Safety.
Special Precautions for UNC-Chapel Hill Users of 15 Passenger Vans
Campus Box 1100
104 Airport Drive
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1100
From: Steve Kenny, Director of Risk Management Services
Subject: 15-Passenger Van Warning
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a Consumer Advisory warning users of 15-passenger vans of an increased rollover risk under certain conditions. Please read this carefully.
While the University has not eliminated these vans, we believe it is imperative that departments operating them: 1) are made aware of the Consumer Advisory and 2) implement loss prevention measures that will minimize this potential problem. Of course, if your transportation needs can be met without using one of these vans, you are strongly encouraged to do so.
As a departmental owner of a University 15-passenger van, you and your drivers are responsible to make sure all safety and operating policies are followed and to make appropriate judgment calls in the interest of safety. At a minimum, the following guidelines must be adhered to in order to operate a van:
- You must be a University employee to operate a van (Graduate or professional students whose educational training requires the use of a van and whose use is permitted by an authorized official may also operate it).
- You must be a licensed driver with five or more years of driving experience.
- You must complete a pre-trip inspection of the van to assure that it is in a safe condition. Do not operate the van if you have any mechanical or equipment concerns.
- You and your occupants must wear seat belts while the van is being operated. Your driver is ultimately responsible for seeing that this is enforced.
- When the van is not full, passengers should sit in seats that are in front of the rear axle.
- When possible, there should be at least two eligible drivers in case of an emergency or driver fatigue.
- Have the occupant of the front passenger seat serve as the navigator. Let the navigator follow the directions or read the map for you and assist with lane changes, turns and backing.
- Limit your drive time to less than four hours. If trips will exceed this, plan on having a second eligible driver or plan on staying overnight.
- Always consider the characteristics of the van and drive conservatively. Its length, width and weight are all greater than what you are typically used to.
- The weight of the van, particularly when fully occupied, requires additional stopping distance. And it causes the center of gravity to shift rearward and upward increasing the likelihood of rollover. This shift in gravity will also increase the potential for loss of control in panic maneuvers. This is the primary reason for the issuance of this Consumer Advisory.
- The width of the van allows for less lane room. Be aware that the shoulder is often soft and can give way underneath you causing the van to roll.
- The length increases distances needed for making turns, changing lanes and backing. Use your navigator to assist with these lane changes and turns. And when backing, have the navigator get out to watch for obstacles.
Departments that operate 15-passenger vans should select one or two experienced drivers to drive on a regular basis. These drivers will gain valuable experience handling the van. By driving conservatively, following these basic guidelines and remaining aware of this Consumer Advisory, you and your occupants will experience a safer and more enjoyable trip.
Please contact me for additional information regarding this or other travel risk management needs.
NSC Information on Vehicle Safety
Pedestrian Safety Tips for Tar Heels on the Go Safety Tips for Pedestrians:
- Be Aware: Look across all lanes you must cross. Even though one vehicle has stopped, another may pass in another lane.
- Be Safe: Do not assume vehicles can stop. Gauge the flow of traffic before you step out onto the road and wait if necessary.
- Be Considerate: Establish eye contact with drivers before crossing.
Safety Tips for Drivers:
- Be Aware: When entering a crosswalk area, be prepared to stop.
- Be Safe: Do not overtake and pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians on your side of the roadway.
- Be Considerate: Establish eye contact with pedestrians.
Information on pedestrian access and safety at UNC from the UNC Department of Public safety.
Road Vogue: Information about biking from the North Carolina Coalition for Bicycle Driving (NCCBD).
Bicycling Street Smarts: A guide to riding confidently, legally and safely from bikexprt.com