Safe Operating Procedures

Safe Operating Procedures

Mount Holyoke College requires vehicle safety to be practiced at all times, whether it is a fleet vehicle, department vehicle, pool vehicle, rented or personal vehicle. Academic and administrative departments and student organizations will be accountable for vehicle safety.

  • Seat Belts - All passengers and drivers should be fastened according to Massachusetts State Law. All passenger and driver seat belts should remain fastened until the driver has reached the destination. The driver should visually check as well as verbally inform the passengers.
  • Distractions - There should be no loud music, throwing of objects or other driver distractions. Drivers whose passengers are causing distractions should stop the vehicle in a safe place until the distractions have ceased. Service animals ARE permitted in Fleet vehicles. COMFORT ANIMALS ARE NEVER ALLOWED IN FLEET VEHICLES, INCLUDING BUSES.
  • Cell Phones - See College's cell phone use policy.

    Massachusetts Law

    The new “hands free” law requires hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving went into effect February 23, 2020 is designed to make the roads safer.

    Drivers 18 or Over

    • Can only use electronic devices & mobile phones in hands-free mode & are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode.
    • Are not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone.
    • Cannot touch the phone except to activate the hands-free mode & can only enabled when the device is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the vehicle.
    • Are not allowed to touch devices for texting, emailing, apps, video or internet use.
    • Activation of GPS navigation is permitted when the device is installed or properly mounted.
    • Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationery & not located in public travel lane, but is not allowed at red lights or stop signs.
    • Voice to text & communication to electronic devices is legal only when device is properly mounted; use of headphone (one ear) is permitted.

    Drivers under the age of 18

    • No use of any electronic devices.  All phone use while driving is illegal, including use in handsfree mode.

    Fines for Violating the Hands-Free Law

    • 1st offense - $100
    • 2nd offense - $250, plus mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program
    • 3rd & subsequent offenses - $500, plus insurance surcharge and mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program

    Drivers will be allowed to use a cell phone to call 911 for an emergency but are advised, if possible, to pull over safely before calling 911.

    College Regulations

    If you are using a fleet vehicle, usage of cell phones are prohibited.

    If you are caught while driving a fleet vehicle while using a mobile device, you will be responsible for:

    • The state fine
    • Loss of your driving privileges for 6 months
    • Organization/department will be responsible for a $50 fee
  • Cargo - Baggage and equipment should be kept in the trunk or behind the last seat in a van and secured to prevent them from becoming dangerous projectiles in the event of an accident.
  • Signals - Turn and lane change signals must be used to signal the driver's intentions.
  • Speed Bumps & Potholes - The driver must slow down and use caution when driving over speed bumps or potholes. A van should be brought to a complete stop before proceeding over a speed bump. This will avoid damage to college vehicles as well as prevent jolts to passengers in the rear of the vehicle where the jolt is five times greater than in the front.
  • Forward/Reverse Motion - Avoid backing up whenever possible, such as by choosing a pull-through parking space. When reverse travel is necessary, proceed with caution and use the factory installed back up cameras for assistance. NEVER BACK UP ON A HIGHWAY.
  • Trips - When there is more than one vehicle traveling to the same destination, the "excursion coordinator" (coach, supervisor, director, etc.) will be in the last vehicle. Each driver should keep track of the vehicles traveling with them. If the driver detects that the vehicle to the rear is missing or has develops problems, the driver in the forward vehicle must immediately turn on hazard flashers, then pull over to a safe location (note: a curving exit ramp or an area of low visibility is not a safe location). If the last van develops problems, the driver should flash their high beans, turn on hazard flashers, then pull over to a safe location. The driver should have passengers get out of the vehicle and away from the road. Determine the nature of the problem and take appropriate action.
  • Passengers - Picking up hitchhikers is strictly prohibited. Only passengers connected with the event, activity or college business are permitted to ride in college vehicles.
  • Equipment - Each vehicle is equipped with a fire extinguisher and accident-warning devise (red reflective triangle) in case of a breakdown. Drivers are responsible for checking to ensure these items are present in the vehicle prior to the start of each trip. The Fleet Office may replace any items that are not present during business hours. Please make a note on the trip sheet what needs to be replaced.
  • Weather Conditions - If it is raining, it is recommended that you reduce your driving speed under the posted limit. By law, you must use headlights whenever windshield wipers are in use. Roads are more slippery at the start of rain since surface oil and grease form slick films that are not washed away until after 20-30 minutes of hard rain. Strong winds also make steering difficult. In such conditions, speed should be decreased. The driver should have both hands on the steering wheel and be alert for other vehicles swerving into their path. The driver may opt to pull over until adverse weather conditions have passed. If it is snowing or ice is expected, it is most likely the vehicles will not be released to the departments or organizations for their reservations. If snow or ice start to fall during your reservation, turn on your headlights and have both hands on the steering wheel. Be alert for other vehicles. The driver may opt to pull over until adverse weather conditions have passed. The on-duty Public Safety and Service Supervisor has the authority to not allow vehicles to be used due to the adverse weather conditions. The on-duty Supervisor will utilize all available information (including but not limited to weather advisories, radio, TV, internet, etc.) to assist in determining if vehicles can leave campus. As a general rule, the college will cancel trips in order to protect faculty, staff and students that may be using college vehicles. As a matter of policy, the college expects drivers to advise the Fleet Office or Public Safety and Service if weather conditions deteriorate and it is necessary to find a safe place to wait to resume the trip once the weather improves.
  • Driver Responsibility - In addition to the general agreement, fleet drivers are required to do the following: Keep safety equipment assigned to the van in good condition and securely mounted. Keep the floors and steps of the van free from items that could cause slips, falls or could be tossed around. Follow established routes and schedules, if applicable.
  • Defensive Driving Techniques - A defensive driver is one who is careful to commit no driving errors, makes allowances for the lack of skill and improper attitude of others, doesn't become involved in an accident or close call because of weather, road conditions, traffic or actions of pedestrians and other drivers, keeps continually alert for accident-reducing situations far enough in advances to take defensive actions and concedes the right of way to prevent an accident.