University Vehicle Use Policy

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish procedures regulating the reservation and use of University owned vehicles by employees, students, and approved volunteers of the University.

Scope

This policy applies to all Wilkes University students, faculty, and staff of the University as well as University Affiliates (including volunteers) who use a University Vehicle for any purpose.

Definitions

  • A 15-passenger van is a van with seating for 15 passengers, including the driver (driver + 14 passengers), whether or not the last row of seats has been removed.
  • Authorized Driver - A driver who meets the University’s Authorized Driver qualifications and completes the required approval process
  • MVR – Motor Vehicle Record providing driver history for a period of time, generally three (3) years.
  • University Activities are functions that promote the operations of the institution or enhance the educational process (i.e. athletic events, student recruitment, conferences, course field trips, etc.).
  • University Affiliate - Any individual who is not a faculty member, staff, or student who otherwise has a formal relationship with the University, including but not limited to visiting scholars, visiting students, research fellows, professional program participants, club sports coaches, and volunteers. Vendors and contractors are not University Affiliates, except for those with an ongoing presence on campus (i.e. Dining Service Staff).
  • University Vehicle - Any motorized form of transportation owned, leased, rented, or otherwise under the control of the University and licensed for use on public roadways. For the purposes of this policy, University Vehicles do not include not commercial vehicles (i.e. Shuttles).
  • Violation – Any motor vehicle driving violation.

Policy and Process

University vehicles may be available for authorized drivers traveling on University activities. Authorized Drivers must meet the criteria in this policy to use University vehicles. Failure to comply with this policy and/or procedures will result in suspension/prohibition of an individual’s use of University vehicles and other disciplinary actions.

Authorized Driver – Minimum Qualifications

Individuals must meet the minimum Authorized Driver qualifications defined below to be an Authorized Driver:

  1. Possess a valid U.S. driver’s license, held for a minimum of two (2) years;
  2. Be at least 18 years of age (21 years of age to drive a University owned or rented/leased 15 passenger van), unless prohibited by the rental company’s requirements;
  3. Meet the qualifications of an acceptable low-risk Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) check conducted by the University Police Department.

Individuals from outside the United States must possess an International Driving Permit (IDP) in addition to holding a valid foreign driver's license from their country. (Foreign, probationary, court restricted, or provisional licenses are generally not acceptable forms of licensing to operate a University vehicle.) The individual must also personally attest to their driving history if written verification is unobtainable.

Steps to Become an Authorized Driver

To begin the driver approval process, complete the following for the University Police Department:

  1. Complete the Request for Driver Authorization (Attachment A) (.pdf) and have signed by the appropriate Department Head. This requires the employee/student granting consent to the University to access personal MVR information, complying with the Federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act. Submit the form two (2) weeks prior to use of a University vehicle.
  2. Provide a photocopy of current driver’s license.
  3. Print and sign the Driver Obligation form (Attachment C) (.pdf).
  4. Complete an online driver safety-training course. Upon successful completion of the course, the driver must print the certificate of completion and submit it to the University Police Department along with Attachments A and C as stated above.

When driving a University Van, additional online training is required.

Direct any questions regarding training programs to the University Police Department.

MVR Check of All Authorized Drivers

MVR verifications are required for all employees and students operating vehicles on behalf of the University. MVRs produce a history of traffic violations and will help ensure that safe and responsible individuals are operating vehicles on behalf of the University.

For Employees

  • MVRs are conducted to determine employment eligibility for candidates in positions that require travel in University and/or personal vehicles as an essential function.
  • MVRs will be performed as part of the authorized driver approval process, and annually for each employee assigned an institution vehicle, drivers who complete all required steps in the Vehicle Use Policy, and drivers who routinely use their personal vehicle for conducting
    University business and/or transporting students for institution business.
  • MVRs may be verified on a post-accident basis at the discretion of the University.
  • Employees with multiple moving violations and/or at-fault accidents will be subject to progressive corrective action including, but not limited to counseling, mandatory participation in a driver-training program, and loss of the right to operate an institution vehicle. The loss and/or suspension of an employee’s driver’s license, where driving is an essential function of the job, may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
  • If an approved driver’s license is revoked or suspended for any reason, the employee must notify the University Police Department.

For Students

  • MVRs will be performed before a student may drive and annually for all student drivers whose position at the University necessitates operation of a vehicle owned, leased, or rented by Wilkes University. Students with multiple moving violations and/or at-fault accidents will not be approved to drive an institution vehicle. Please refer to the matrix below for detailed standards regarding judgment of driving history and any actions required.

For students and employees, the following guidelines will be used to determine eligibility to operate a University vehicle or rented vehicle for University business:

Acceptable

No violations in the past three (3) years.

Acceptable but Monitored

Minor violations in past three (3) years but violations do not meet the unacceptable criteria

  • Driver may be required to complete online driving training courses.

Unacceptable

One (1) or more major violations in the past three (3) years.

  • Alcohol or drug related offense
  • Reckless operation of a vehicle
  • Refusal to submit to a blood alcohol test
  • Operating a vehicle more than 30 mph over the speed limit
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Any felony committed with a vehicle
  • Three (3) or more moving violations in the past three (3) years
  • One (1) at-fault accident and two (2) or more moving violations in the past three (3) years.
  • Two (2) or more at-fault accidents in the past three (3) years

Requesting University Vehicles

  1. If using a department vehicle, the requesting individual must be authorized by the department prior to use.
  2. Complete a Vehicle Reservation Form (Attachment B) (.pdf). This form is available at the University Police Department located in the lower level of the parking garage. The form must be filled out completely including the Passenger Roster, and have the appropriate signatures as indicated on the form. The University Police Department would prefer all request be submitted at least five (5) working days prior to a trip, but suggest request be submitted as early as possible. You will be notified as soon as possible of vehicle availability.
  3. Driver must be authorized by the University Police Department to operate University vehicles prior to requesting a vehicle.

Pre-Operating Visual Inspection

Prior to use, drivers should conduct a brief visual inspection (see PreOperating Visual Inspection Checklist, attachment D (.pdf)) of the motor vehicle to ascertain the presence of any readily apparent conditions that might affect the motor vehicle's operational safety. In the event of discovering a potential problem, the driver should not use the motor vehicle and should contact the Motor Pool staff for guidance at 570-408-2349. Submit the completed Pre-Operating Visual Inspection Checklist to the University Police Department.

Driver Responsibilities

  1. Driver(s) must successfully complete the University-sponsored defensive driving course.
  2. Driver will be issued keys prior to trip. The driver must present their driver’s license and a Wilkes University ID when picking up the keys.
  3. Any changes to Passenger Roster must be noted before departure.
  4. Two University Fleet gas cards (different vendors) will be assigned to each vehicle. The driver will sign for these cards when they sign out a vehicle. The driver will be accountable for any and all charges made to these cards while in their possession. Any unauthorized purchases (e.g. outside of fuel) may be charged back to the driver’s departmental budget and may result in disciplinary action.
  5. Driver is responsible for completing the Vehicle Activity Report and returning the report and vehicle keys to the University Police Communications Center at end of trip.
  6. Vehicle will be picked up from the University motor pool and returned to same location with doors locked. Personal vehicles are not permitted to park in the Motor Pool spaces.
    1. Currently the University motor pool is located in the parking garage or in the parking lot behind the Facilities Building.
  7. Driver is responsible for a pre-trip inspection of the vehicle to identify any possible safety hazards. The driver is required to report any vehicle damage or operating problems prior to the trip.
  8. Trash must be removed from vehicle. Continued disregard of this policy will result in the loss of vehicle privileges. 
  9. Vehicles should be returned with at least ¾ of a tank of gas (½ a tank is minimum). Continued disregard of this policy will result in the loss of vehicle privileges.
  10. The driver and secondary driver are limited to no more than 10 hours of driving during any 24- hour period and must be given at least a 10-hour rest (i.e. not allowed to drive) between driving periods. a. The University recommends that a minimum 15-minute break be taken for each three hour driving period.
  11. Alcoholic beverages and/or illegal substances are prohibited in University vehicles.
  12. The use of any tobacco products is prohibited in University Vehicles.
  13. Drivers may not use cell phones or other electronic communication devices while operating Vehicles for University Activities or for other approved University purposes. Drivers should pull off the road to a safe location and only engage in communications after the Vehicle is properly parked.
  14. The University does not allow earphones or headphones of any type to be worn by a person operating a University owned vehicle. Listening to portable audio devices, through ear or headphones, while driving a vehicle is illegal in most states, including Pennsylvania. It has also been proven to be very distracting and dangerous for vehicle drivers. This includes, but is not limited to: MP3 players, CD players and DVD players.
  15. Seat Belts are to be worn by driver and all passengers. Total occupancy of vehicle cannot exceed number of seat belts available in vehicle.
  16. The University limits total occupancy of any van to not more than 11 passengers including the driver.
  17. The driver is responsible for any and all traffic and/or parking violations incurred while in possession of the vehicle.
  18. Driver(s) will agree to follow the University’s Driver Obligations (Attachment C) (.pdf).
  19. All other University Policies remain in effect while traveling in a University Vehicle.

University Police Department Responsibilities

The University Police Department will regulate the assignment of University vehicles and maintain the approved driver program, including:

  1. Schedule MVR checks and maintain files for approved drivers.
  2. Schedule vehicles based on Vehicles Request Forms.
  3. Report any abuse of vehicles to proper University officials.

University Motor Pool Responsibilities

All Wilkes University- owned/leased motor vehicles are within the responsible purview of the Motor Pool office of the Department of Facilities Management. The University Motor Pool will:

  • Arrange for obtaining new vehicles
  • Disposing and reassigning of old or surplus vehicles
  • Securing and maintaining the necessary titles and licenses
  • Performing proper maintenance
  • Schedule routine cleaning of vehicles
  • Maintaining required service records
  • Ensuring fleet safety standards.

Passenger Requirements

Other than Wilkes University students, minors may not ride in vehicles used for University business. PA 67 Section 171 prohibits the transportation of school-aged children in anything other than a school bus or specially equipped vehicle. Our vehicles do not qualify, nor do most rental vehicles.

Breakdown Procedures

This information is also located on the laminated card found in the college vehicle glove box.

  • If a University vehicle breaks down, the driver should notify University Police Department at (570) 408-4999.
  • University Police will notify the Motor Pool office to determine action to be taken – the driver is responsible for making arrangements to carry out the repair.
  • Any additional expenses incurred due to the abandonment of the vehicle (if not previously approved by the Motor Pool office), alternate transportation or lodging is the responsibility of the individual or the department.
  • If a rental vehicle breaks down, the driver should follow the procedure outlines on the rental agreement – the driver should also report the break down to University Police Department at (570) 408-4999.

Unsafe Driving Reports

All University vehicles are marked with the University’s name and a unique license plate number. Reports of unsafe driving are received from time to time by administrative offices at the University. When received, such reports will be documented, investigated, and reported to the driver’s supervisor/department head. Reports of unsafe driving may result in disciplinary action, including the suspension or revocation of driving privileges on behalf of the University.

Exceptions

Requests for exceptions to any part of this policy must be made in writing to the Associate Vice President for Operations

Forms

Request for:

Responsibility 

The University Police Department is responsible for the implementation and updating of this policy. University drivers are responsible for complying with all laws, rules and regulations associated with the use of a University vehicle. University employees who misuse University vehicles are also subjected to disciplinary action.

Resources

Request for Driver Authorization

Driver Authorization Form (.pdf)

I acknowledge that I have read and understand the information in the University policy “University Vehicle Use Policy” and agree to abide by all the obligations and requirements contained therein. I understand that failure to comply with these requirements, and/or failure to maintain an acceptable driving record (as outlined in University Vehicle Use Policy), will result in revocation of University driving privileges.

I hereby give my consent for Wilkes University to complete a background check on my driving record in accordance with Wilkes University's Vehicle Use Policy for drivers of University Vehicles. As part of this procedure, Wilkes University has my permission to order Motor Vehicle Records (MVRs) from any and all states in which I currently have and have previously had a driver license. I understand that Wilkes University has an established MVR review policy that my driving history will be compared against to determine my driving eligibility for the University. I further understand that failure to release consent for Wilkes University to conduct a background check on my driving record means, at a minimum, that I forfeit my driving privileges for the University. If I forfeit my driving privileges and my employment duties at Wilkes University include driving, my duties will be reviewed to determine whether I can continue my position without driving privileges for the University and, if so, what additional non-driving duties the University will require.

Driver Obligations

Driver Obligation Form (.pdf)

  1. The driver agrees not permit an unauthorized driver to operate a University vehicle. In case of an emergency, the qualified driver shall contact the University Police Department at (570) 408-4999 for an authorized exception.
  2. The driver agrees to use a University vehicle only for approved University Activities.
  3. The driver agrees to use a seat belt, and shall ensure that all occupants use seat belts or other occupant restraints, when operating a University vehicle or otherwise transporting others on behalf of the University. The driver is responsible for ensuring that the total number of passengers does not exceed the number of seat belts available in the vehicle.
  4. The driver agrees to operate the University vehicle (or other vehicle when in use to transport others on behalf of the University) in accordance with University regulations, shall know and observe all applicable traffic laws, ordinances, and regulations, and shall use safe driving practices at all times.
  5. The driver is responsible for any and all fines or traffic violations associated with the use of a University vehicle used behalf of the University.
  6. The driver agrees not to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  7. The driver agrees not allow alcohol or controlled substances to be present in the vehicle.
  8. The driver agrees not to transport unauthorized passengers such as hitchhikers, family, or friends. Only persons directly involved with the university activity may ride in vehicle unless given express permission by the department head authorizing the trip.
  9. The driver shall prepare and file with the University Police Department, a travel plan in all cases involving travel outside the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area.
  10. The driver agrees to turn off the vehicle’s engine, remove the keys and lock the vehicle whenever the vehicle is unattended.
  11. The driver agrees to observe all posted speed limits, and shall travel at speeds slower than posted limits when justified by weather or road conditions.
  12. The driver agrees to operate a University vehicle only on roads approved for use by passenger vehicles.
  13. The driver is responsible for evaluating the condition of the University vehicle prior to and after the vehicle use. Before leaving the parking area, the driver shall inspect the vehicle for safety issues by checking tires, wiper blades, lights, and other safety equipment. Report any problems or concerns to the Office of Motor Pool or the University Police Department before the driver begins operation of the vehicle.
  14. The driver must report all accidents or moving violations involving the use of a University vehicle or other vehicle used in transporting others on behalf of the University to the University Police Department. Additional instructions on how to proceed in the event of an accident are provided in the glove compartments of all University vans.
  15. The driver shall be subject to applicable University disciplinary procedures for failure to comply with this list of driver obligations.

11- and 15- Passenger Van Requirements

  1. Driver Qualifications and Standards: Drivers must be current employee/student of the University who are 21 years of age or older, possess a valid state operator’s license, have a safe driving record and successfully complete a required driver authorization process. Drivers must meet all eligibility and use limitation requirements as set forth in University’s Vehicle Use Policy.
  2. Training: The 15-Passenger Van Driver Safety Awareness Program must be completed by each driver. Successful completion of the course is required before a new driver may be issued a 15-passenger van. The course goal is to familiarize drivers with this policy, as well as provide practical instruction on the handling characteristics of 15-passenger vans, prope backing, braking, obstacle avoidance and return-to-road techniques if a wheel drops off the roadway. The training consists of satisfactory completion of an on-line program as well as an actual driving session. Contact the University Police Department (non-emergency at x4377) for more information about this training program.
  3. Vehicle Occupancy: Occupancy is limited to the manufacturer’s assigned seating capacity.
  4. Weather Restrictions: Poor weather is a major contributing factor in 15-passenger van accidents. Operation of 15-passenger vans during hazardous weather conditions is discouraged. Safe driving conditions are road conditions absent snow-cover, heavy rain, ice, fog or forecasts predicting such conditions. If drivers already on the road are confronted by developing conditions such as these, the vehicle should be stopped in a safe location until conditions improve.
  5. No driver shall drive for more than two (2) hours without a break of at least 30 minutes. Any trip that is longer than 200 miles, or four (4) hours, must have at least two qualified drivers assigned to drive the van. Driver(s) shall not drive between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. without special permission from their department head.
  6. Cell Phones: Drivers operating 15-passenger vans may not use cell phones while the vehicle is in operation.
  7. Seat Belt Requirement: The driver and all passengers must wear seat belts at all times while the vehicle is in operation.
  8. Load Evenly: Passengers will be seated from the front seats back. (If 10 passengers are riding, the first 10 seats will be occupied.)
  9. The roof will not be used for storage for any purpose. Keep luggage on the floor if at all possible and do not obstruct rear window.
  10. No Towing: 15-passenger vans may never tow a trailer.