15-Passenger Van Policy

OBJECTIVE

The objective of this policy is to reduce the risk of accident and possible injury or death associated with the operation of 15-passenger vans. Risk reduction is achieved through assurance that vans will only be operated by safe and knowledgeable drivers, that vans are in proper and safe working order and that all passengers use passenger restraint systems when the vehicle is in operation.

POLICY

All operators of UF owned, leased, or non-owned 15-passenger vans shall possess a valid driver license and maintain a good driving record. Departments will select and approve all operators and arrange for them to attend an approved van operators training session prior to operating a 15-passenger van (Exception: operators that possess a valid Commercial Driver License, CDL, do not need to participate in the training but do need a valid DL/CDL). Vehicles will be routinely inspected through annual safety checks and operational safety checks (Checklist). Vehicles will be removed from service if conditions are found that will impair the safe operation of the vehicle or the safety of its occupants.

AUTHORITY

By authority delegated from the University President, the Vice-President for Business Affairs is responsible for the safety of all University facilities. Under this authority, policies are developed to provide a safe teaching, research, service, housing and recreational environment.

RESPONSIBILITIES

Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) is responsible for coordination of driver license checks and approval of drivers based on these checks. EH&S will maintain a database of all drivers approved to operate 15-passenger vans. EH&S will provide access to computer based training that may be used as a substitute for classroom instruction.

Departments

Departments are responsible for identifying staff or official volunteers that have a need to operate 15-passenger vans. Departments are responsible for ensuring only approved drivers operate 15-passenger vans. Departments are responsible for submitting a copy of the driver license for each intended operator to EH&S for license check. Departments are responsible for assuring that each operator has received the approved, required training. Departments are responsible for inspecting, servicing and maintaining their vehicle in safe working order and ensuring that all vehicle occupants use passenger-restraint devices.

Physical Plant Division

The Physical Plant Division is responsible for ensuring the annual comprehensive safety check is conducted on all UF owned vehicles and removing unsafe vehicles from service.

Employees

Employees are responsible for attending training and following the instructions given. They are also responsible for providing accurate information about past driving status and new convictions should they occur.

BACKGROUND

Studies conducted by the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration (NHSTA) of the US Department of Transportation reveal that loaded 15-passenger vans have significantly higher risk of rollover than passenger cars and light trucks. Loading the vans raises the center of gravity and shifts it towards the rear greatly affecting the handling characteristics. When heavily loaded the steering characteristics and responsiveness are very different form light passenger vehicles, this can cause serious consequences in an emergency situation when an untrained driver expects the vehicle to respond like a car.

Driving large vans requires skill and experience from the operator, with little or no margin of error. The vehicles must also be in proper working order to reduce the likelihood of involvement in an accident. The vehicles must receive a formal operational inspections by the operator to demonstrate due diligence. Each vehicle must undergo an annual inspection by a mechanic to ensure hidden defects are identified that could contribute to the risk of vehicle accident.

NHSTA has shown that the chance of survival in a rollover type accident is greatly enhanced by the proper use of seatbelts.


PROGRAM

Step 1 Application

Applicants must complete the 15-Passenger Van Driver Training Request form and submit to EH&S.

Step 2 License Verification and Driving History

Drivers with out-of-state licenses may need to provide a record of driving history. (EH&S will advise.)  Drivers with international driver’s licenses will be required to obtain a Florida Drivers License.

  • Note: Drivers with serious moving violations (DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, accidents, etc.) or three or more moving violations in the three-year review period shall not be permitted to operate 15-passenger vans.

EH&S will provide results of the check to the requesting department with a letter stating the outcome of the review. EH&S will bear the costs associated with the license check and review.

Step 3 Training

Drivers not possessing a CDL must participate in a driver training program approved by the University. Additional training may be required by departments if special skills are required (e.g. pulling a trailer). EH&S coordinates computer-based training for drivers in the Gainesville area and provides a DVD training resource for remote locations.

The training includes an online assessment which the trainee must pass in order to be authorized to drive. Trainees have 2 attempts to pass the assessment. A third attempt is allowed after a 30-day waiting period.

Step 4 Authorization

EH&S provides the trainee’s department with written authorization to drive once the requirements of application, license verification, training, and assessment have been met.

(Allow 10 – 14 days to process from date of submitted application)

Step 5 Inspection and Travel procedures

Complete pre-travel Checklist for all drivers of vans used for long trips (e.g. greater than 100 miles roundtrip).

The PPD Motor Pool can provide a pre-trip check upon request and appointment.  Vehicles used primarily on campus/locally must be inspected each time the vehicle is refueled.

The driver should also use the Checklist to document the inspection process. Each vehicle must be included in the annual Safety Inspection performed by the PPD Motor Pool or for non-Alachua County facilities by a local mechanic using PPD inspection criteria. Fifteen-passenger vans may not be equipped with roof racks.

Operational Requirements

All vehicle occupants must use seatbelts. On long trips the number of approved drivers should match the expected trip duration to prevent driver fatigue and inattention. No single driver should drive more than 8 hours in a single day.


Vehicle Usage and Insurance Information

Florida Administrative Code Chapter 60B-1.004 states: “Motor vehicles owned, leased or operated by the State University System shall be available for official institutional business only.”

Additionally:

1.c Persons other than state employees shall not be permitted to operate a state-owned, leased, or rented vehicle unless authorized by the administrative head of an agency or person designated by him and then only on official state business.

The University’s automobile liability coverage is provided by the State Risk Management Trust Fund (Fund), which is administered by the State of Florida, Department of Insurance, Division of Risk Management. The Fund’s coverage extends only to the insured, which includes the named agency and its “officers, employees, agents, or volunteers acting within the course and scope of employment”.  The statute does not extend insurance coverage to students.

Issued September 10, 2001; Revised/Reviewed February 1, 2012; March 31, 2014; April 23, 2014.