With the increasing number of vehicles in Greenville and on Bob Jones University campus, it’s important for students to know how to keep themselves and their fellow students safe while driving and walking.
Public Safety offers students a few tips for staying safe on and off campus. The latest data from 2017 reports that in Greenville, there were 17,076 total vehicular accidents that year. Out of those accidents, 12,994 accidents involved some type of property damage, and 4,009 accidents resulted in a person injured—with 73 total fatalities.
From the beginning of this calendar year to present day, there have been 27 reported vehicle accidents on campus.
Captain Ken Coppins, a Public Safety officer, worked for the Greenville City Police Department for 15 years. For 13 years he worked in accident reconstruction, investigating the causes of and circumstances around accidents. After leaving the police department, Coppins went to work as a death investigator for the medical coroner’s office, where he saw many traffic fatalities.
His primary tip for staying safe while driving around campus and around Greenville is to stay off the phone. A cell phone, Coppins said, is one of the most distracting devices everyone carries with them. Texting, calling or scrolling through social media can take a student’s attention away from their surroundings just long enough to put them in a dangerous situation.
“Is that one phone call worth risking your life or someone else’s life?” Coppins asked. “[Driving] with a device in your hands isn’t safe for you, nor is it safe for anybody else in your car.” Silencing a cell phone and putting it out of sight helps students avoid distraction while driving.
Coppins said students need to remember to obey the campus 20 mph speed limit, pay attention to pedestrians, park in the assigned parking lots and avoid driving while in a rush in order to be safe. “You have one job . . . to get yourself and the passengers in your car to their destination safely,” he said.
Students walking around campus also need to stay alert to their surroundings. Coppins said he has seen many students step out onto a road without looking for traffic because they are texting or talking on the phone.
To avoid such dangerous situations, Coppins said it is best to stay off the phone altogether when walking from one place to another. Public Safety patrols campus all day seven days a week looking for drivers and pedestrians who may be putting themselves or others in danger.
But that isn’t always enough to keep campus safe. Drivers need to stay alert, and pedestrians need to be aware of any oncoming traffic as they walk around. “Our goal is to make sure the campus is safe for both pedestrians and automobiles,” Coppins said. “And it’s a cooperative effort on both sides, those who are walking and those who are driving.”
That cooperative effort is important to the well-being of everyone on campus. Commander David Champ, a Public Safety officer, agreed with Coppins that staying off the phone is the best tip for safe driving.
Champ also said driving defensively is important. Driving defensively, he said, includes obeying the speed limit, stopping at stop signs and lights, keeping music at a low level and not eating while driving.
Champ urges students to avoid taking risks that could cause a dangerous situation; taking that risk is not worth the damage it could cause the student or others around them.