Vehicle Safety

Automobile Insurance and Safety Program

Daily Vehicle Safety Inspection Checklist

Before You Drive That Rental Car 

Seat Belt Use 

Related Videos from the Video Library

Car phones & Your Safety

Safety Tips for Emergencies

Daily Vehicle Safety Inspection Checklist

Of all aspects of driving conditions, you have direct control over only two: yourself and your vehicle. It is your responsibility to make sure your vehicle is in proper working condition. Use of the following list may be critical to safety.

  • Brakes (Pedal Pressure)
  • Emergency Brake
  • Both Tail Lights
  • Windshield Wipers
  • Windshield Defroster
  • Horn
  • Mirrors (adjust before driving)
  • Turn Signals
  • Back-up Lights
  • Both Headlights (High & Low Beam)
  • Tires
    • Tread
    • Inflation
    • Spare
  • Brake Lights
  • Hazard Lights
  • Safety Belt
  • Fluid Levels
    • Gasoline
    • Oil
    • Power Steering
    • Power Brakes
    • Coolant
    • Transmission
    • Windshield Washer

Seat Belt Use 

University owned, leased, or rented vehicle (University vehicles) should be equipped with fully operational seat belts (preferably lap / sash type). Employee owned (personal) vehicles should meet the same criteria when authorized for use on University business.
Employees and passengers should wear seat belts when driving or riding in University vehicles. This rule (Rule 60B-1.013 Department of Risk Management Services) also applies when rental, leased or personal vehicles are used for University business.
It is the responsibility of each driver of a University vehicle to assure that passengers wear seat belts. Failure to comply with this requirement, may result in the compromise or denial of any insurance claims resulting from an automobile accident.
The Department of Environmental Health & Safety advocates the mandatory use of seat belts while on-the-job, and hopes and strongly recommends use off-the-job as well.

Car phones & Your Safety

According to a study by researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y., the cellular phone, typically seen as an asset in an automobile emergency, is a risk factor in auto crashes.

 Researchers state that people who use a car phone may increase the risk of collision by 34 %.

Mike Houghton, a spokesman at the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) in Washington, D.C., disagrees with the report.  Houghton says that "driving safely is your first responsibility.

The CTIA provides several safety tips for cellular phone users:

  • Be familiar with the use of your phone.
  • Position the phone so it is easy to see and reach.
  • Use a hands-free phone, if possible.
  • Use speed dialing for frequently dialed numbers.
  • When dialing, dial while the vehicle is stopped Dial a few numbers, check traffic and continue dialing when it's safe.  Or, have a passenger dial
  • Never take notes while driving.
  • Allow voice mail to answer the phone when it's unsafe to speak.

Rental Cars

As most State employees drive rental vehicles, the following checklist is to help you make sure that you know how to locate and operate the safety features of rental vehicles that are unfamiliar to you.

  • Check safety equipment items.
  • Seat adjusted to fit you.
  • Seat belt buckled and snug.
  • Mirrors adjusted (where are the blind spots?)
  • Know how to sound the horn.
  • Know how to turn on the headlights, the location of the high beam indicator, and the dimmer switch.
  • Know how to turn on the emergency flashers.
  • Know how to turn on the dome light.
  • Know how to turn on the windshield wipers, washer fluid pump, defroster, and vary the wiper speed.
  • Know how to unlock the trunk, gas filler door and hood.
  • Know the location of the spare tire and tools and how to change a tire.
  • Is there an owner's manual in the vehicle?
  • Know how to operate the turn signals.
  • Know how to operate the cruise control.
  • Know how to operate the radio.
  • Do you have a map?
  • Do you know your route?
  • Do you have change for the phone and know emergency numbers? (wrecker, police, ambulance, rental car agency, etc.)
  • Test brakes, gas pedal and steering for sensitivity. (Get the feel of the car and the major control systems before you get into traffic.)

Safety Tips for Emergencies

 Battery Jumper Cables:

  1. Connect the red positive jumper cable clamp to the positive (+) post of the battery in the dead car.

  2. Connect the other positive cable clamp to the positive post of the live battery.

  3. Connect the black negative cable clamp to the negative (-) post of the live battery.

  4. Finally, connect the negative cable clamp to a solid metal part on the dead car, at least a foot from the battery.

Never make your final connection to the dead battery; it could cause a spark and result in an explosion.

 Brake Failure:

Generally you will be able to stop, if you press harder on the brake than normal - Stay calm.

  1. Slowdown and maintain extra space between you and the car ahead.

  2. Put on emergency flashers and look for a safe way off the road.

  3. Test brakes by pressing hard or pumping to a stop.

  4.  Get off the road as soon as it is safely possible.

 Emergency Stops:

Be prepared for a breakdown: Keep a set of road flares in your trunk for nighttime and a set of triangular reflectors for daytime.  If you feel your car losing power, do not brake or hesitate.  Switch on your 4-way emergency flashers and look for a spot to pull completely off the road (preferably the right shoulder), then pull over.  Never stop on the roadway.


On most cars, when you switch off the engine your power brakes and power steering will no longer work.  You will still be able to brake and steer but with much greater effort.  In the event that your car becomes a "runaway", step on the brakes.  Braking usually will slow the car enough to let you switch off the engine.  Be careful not to turn the ignition key so far that it locks the steering wheel.