Driver Safety

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is any non-driving activity a motorist engages in that has the potential to distract them from the primary task of driving.


  • cognitive distractions take your mind off the road 
  • visual distractions take your eyes off the road 
  • manual distractions take your hands off the wheel

There are many common activities likely to distract someone from driving. Common distractions that lead to crashes include

  • cell phone use 
  • eating or drinking 
  • talking to passengers 
  • grooming 
  • using a navigation system 
  • watching videos
  • changing music 

While all distracted driving is dangerous, texting is the most alarming because it involves all three types of distraction at the same time.

In order to reduce the risks associated with distracted driving, it is the policy of Allegheny College to prohibit the use of cell phones (unless hands free/bluetooth) or any other mobile device while operating a motor vehicle while on college business.

Driver Safety – Cell Phones

Not a safe practice!  Operating a motor vehicle safely requires concentration, focus and awareness of constantly changing surroundings. Talking on a cell phone can take your focus away from the road and increase the risk of accidents. On average, a person is four times more likely to be in an accident when talking on a cell phone.

More and more states have passed laws that prohibit hand-held cell phone usage while driving. Check with your local jurisdictions to determine if any cell phone restriction laws are present. Regulations vary from state to state, but a

PA ban on text messaging while driving took effect March 8, 2012

Important guidelines: 

Hands free and voice controlled
  • Get your phone set-up to be legal and safe: Every cell phone manufacturer creates different devices to use in a hands-free manner. It is important to know how to program your speed dial, operate the speakerphone, voice activation, redial features and other safety functions.
  • Have someone else make the calls: If passengers are present, allow them to answer and dial calls for you.
  • Use a hands-free device with your cell phone: Hands-free cell phone accessories are readily available. Whether you choose an installed mounted device for your cell phone or a speaker phone accessory, take advantage of these devices. Assure it is safe and legal!
  • Do not multi-task with your phone when driving: Never text message or take down notes when the vehicle is in motion. These types of activities are serious distractions and increase your risk of an accident.
  • Use your voice mail: Allow phone calls to go to voice mail, and return calls when you reach your destination.
  • Pull the vehicle over: If you must make or receive a call, pull your vehicle over to a safe and legal location before making or answering a phone call.

Do not use your phone in poor conditions: Poor driving conditions or low light situations can severely affect your reaction and response time. Using a cell phone when driving at night or in rainy situations is not recommended.

Driver Safety – Being Courteous

“Defensive Driving”:

This is the notion of driving with accident prevention in mind. A defensive driver keeps a watchful eye out for potential hazards and does not rely on other drivers to compensate for their mistakes. This style of driving is critical for maintaining safety on the roadways.

“Defensive” driving – There is a big difference!

“Defensive driving” should not be confused with “defensive” driving, which adds unnecessary risk to an already dangerous activity.   “Defensive” driving usually occurs when people begin to take the actions of other drivers as personal assaults.

You are on the freeway, driving along in normal traffic conditions. Suddenly, a car in an adjacent lane signals that they would like to move over. You notice the blinking light and think to yourself, “So this person thinks they can just cut me off?” You angrily speed up to close the gap between you and the car you are following.

This kind of behavior has many names, but the product is always the same: drivers get distracted by emotions and competition, rules are broken and accidents occur.

Best practices for “Defensive Driving”:

Simple common courtesy is an effective deterrent for “defensive” driving.   Always drive with accident prevention in mind:

  • Remember that driving is a dangerous activity.
  • Do not take the actions of other drivers personally.
  • Use your turn signals to keep other drivers informed.
  • Do not cut in line, or steal someone else’s turn at stop signs.
  • Allow enough time to get where you are going without having to rush.
  • Slow down in puddle areas to avoid splashing pedestrians and vehicles.
  • Make room for other drivers when roads are crowded.
  • Remember that your horn is for signaling the presence of hazardous conditions, not insulting or intimidating other drivers.
  • Switch to low beams when driving near other vehicles.
  • Refrain from gesturing or screaming at other drivers.
  • Forget about it—the person was not in your life 5 minutes ago; do not put them in your life 5 minutes from now!