General Driving Guidelines

1. Driving for long distances can be very tiring. Since fatigue can lead to increased potential for accidents, driving limit recommendations for all drivers are as follows:

  • Daytime travel: Four (4) hours at one time
  • Nighttime travel: Three (3) hours at one time

2. Within fifteen (15) minutes of reaching a driving limit, the driver should exit the highway to a safe rest area. The driver should take at least a 15-minute break or another approved driver should assume driving responsibilities.

3. When the total trip is expected to be completed within thirty (30) minutes beyond the recommended driving limit, one (1) driver may drive the entire trip without a break. However, if poor weather or heavy traffic threatens to lengthen the trip, the driver should exit the highway to a safe rest area within the recommended driving limits. No driver should exceed ten (10) total hours of driving time in any 24-hour period.

4. Use headlights at all times.

5. The driver's attention should always be on the safe operation of the vehicle. The driver must avoid distractions such as eating, drinking, texting or talking on a cell phone while the vehicle is in motion.

6. The driver should slow down and use caution when driving over speed bumps or potholes to avoid damaging fleet or rental vehicles and injuring passengers.

7. The driver should avoid operating in reverse whenever possible to prevent accidents that happen most frequently when vehicles back up.

8. The driver should not drive the vehicle "off road" unless it is equipped and authorized for that use.

9. The driver shall not drive the vehicles on flooded roadways, regardless of other vehicles proceeding through flooded roadways. Situations can change rapidly and loss of life or extreme harm can occur quickly.

Van Safety and Driving Tips

As a van driver, you have a responsibility to your passengers, to Brandeis University and to the general public with whom you share the highway.

Driving a van may not be a daily experience for you, so be especially careful. This vehicle is likely larger and heavier than your personal vehicle and therefore handles differently. Driving a van requires extra caution at all times. Although a van handles differently than a car, you can compensate for its characteristics and operate it smoothly and safely. In addition to the instructional and practical guidance given in the Driver Safety Program, here are some tips to keep in mind when driving a van:

Making Turns
  1. When turning a corner, you must make a wider swing with a van than you would with a car. Consequently, on a right turn it is necessary to watch the right outside mirrors for small vehicles, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians.
  2. Use turn signals well in advance.
  3. Make turns more slowly than you would with a car. If you turn too quickly, the van will lean and make your passengers uncomfortable.
  4. Whenever possible, don't make "U" turns. Due to the van's wider turning radius, a "U" turn may require you to make at least one backward movement. Avoid backward movement whenever possible.
Following Distance

A loaded van is more difficult to stop than an automobile traveling at the same speed. Therefore, you should use a four-second following rule for a van. The four-second rule works as follows: Count 1,001 - 1,002 - 1,003 - 1,004 after the rear of the vehicle you are following passes a fixed object. If the front of your vehicle passes the same object before you count to 1,004, you are following too closely. Slow down. Increase follow distance in poor weather conditions or when fully loaded.

Height of Van

The height of the van has advantages and disadvantages for the driver. On the plus side, it gives you a better view of the road ahead. On the negative side, some garages are not high enough to accommodate the van. You also have to watch for overhead obstructions such as trees and limbs.

The van can block the view of passenger cars following you. Drivers may attempt to pass you at an unsafe time or place, and thus, threaten to involve you in an accident. Watch both outside mirrors for these maneuvers.

Blind Spots

The van has blind spots on each side. Adjust your mirrors to reduce these as much as possible.

To avoid striking a pedestrian, stop well before you reach a crosswalk. Watch out for your own passengers walking across the front of the van as they board or leave.

When in a line of stop-and-go traffic, never get so close to the vehicle in front that you lose sight of its brake lights and directional signals.

The greatest blind spot is to the rear when backing up.

Backing Up

Your best defense is to back up only when necessary. Avoid backing into traffic. If you must back up:

  1. Back into a space so that you can drive out.
  2. Engage 4-way flashers.
  3. Sound the horn twice to alert pedestrians and other drivers.
  4. Look over both shoulders.
  5. Use all mirrors.
  6. Utilize a spotter whenever available.
  7. Avoid blindside backing.
  8. Back slowly and cautiously.
Parking and Loading/Unloading

Watch for normal hazards, such as low branches and wires, fences, walls and hydrants, and choose a spot that will be easy to pull in and out of. It is also essential that you lock the van when it is left unattended.

Defensive Driving Techniques

A defensive driver is one who:

  1. Is careful to commit no driving errors.
  2. Makes allowances for the lack of skill and improper attitude and actions of others.
  3. Doesn't become involved in an accident or close call because of weather, road conditions, traffic or the actions of pedestrians and other drivers.
  4. Keeps continually alert for accident-producing situations far enough in advance to take defensive action.
  5. Concedes the right of way to prevent an accident.