George Mason University: Safe driving record earns Mason the Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Award

George Mason University has received the Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention Award from the Virginia State Police in recognition of the university’s safe driving record. This award recognizes Mason for having a low number of accidents with university-owned and rented vehicles based on the total number of miles driven over the course of the year.

Mason has worked hard to protect and improve its safe driving record, and this success is a result of the efforts of stakeholders around the university.

“There is a general downward trend in the number of accidents reported each year, especially in the number of preventable accidents,” said Joyce Bland-French, director of Mason’s Office of Risk Management. “This emphasizes the active role employees have in maintaining a culture of situational awareness and driver safety.”

Mason currently has about 700 authorized drivers who operate state-owned, rented, or leased vehicles for daily work on campus or university-related travel. Destinations include Mason campuses and sites, conferences or meetings, student recruitment events, activities for sports teams, academic competitions, and more. To operate a vehicle on behalf of the university, one must become an authorized driver per the university’s Vehicle Use Policy.

“I attribute this achievement to the Office of Risk Management’s Safe Driver Program,” said Julie Zobel, associate vice president of Safety, Emergency, and Enterprise Risk Management. “This program has enhanced safe driving awareness and accountability, which has increased drivers’ awareness and minimized Mason’s liability exposure.”

Mason’s Safe Driver Program, led by Samantha McClelland, risk control manager, includes Driver Safety Awareness Training, the Virginia Driver Alert program, and an Accident Review Committee. The initiative fosters a sense of responsibility among vehicle operators and creates an awareness of the need to always drive defensively to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents.

The Virginia Driver Alert program provides the Office of Risk Management with real-time notification of Mason’s authorized drivers’ infractions that could impede their ability to drive while conducting business on behalf of the university. This new feature is free of charge to agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Every accident is evaluated by Mason’s Accident Review Committee, which includes representatives from Risk Management, University Police, Facilities Management, and Environmental Health and Safety. The committee assesses the nature of each accident and makes appropriate recommendations (such as additional driver training, counseling, probationary restriction of driving privileges, etc.). Risk Management tracks and monitors the committee’s recommendations to ensure each driver has completed the required actions.

“The exchange of information between departments and situational awareness introduced by the Safe Driver Program contribute to the safety culture of drivers who operate state-owned or state-rented vehicles at Mason,” said Zobel.

The program has paid off, helping the university limit its liability, conserve resources, and enhance safety on the roads across its campuses and the surrounding region.