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University of Houston - Victoria

Office of the Vice President for
Administration and Finance

SECTION:  TRAVEL INDEX:  F-3

SUBJECT: STUDENT TRAVEL

POLICY

Texas Education Code, Section 51.950 requires the regulation of certain types of student travel sponsored, supported or sanctioned by the university. UHS System Administrative Policy 03.E.08, Travel by Students to Component University Funded Activity, establishes the system wide policy for this type of travel. (References)

This policy only applies to student travel undertaken by one or more currently enrolled students to reach an activity or event and that meets all of the following criteria:

  1. An activity or event is organized and sponsored by the university. An activity or event is considered to be organized and sponsored if it has been planned, funded and approved by the university; and
  2. The activity or event is located more than 25 miles from the institution; and
  3. (1) Travel to the activity or event is funded and undertaken using a vehicle owned, leased or rented by the university; or
    (2) Attendance at the activity or event is required by a registered student organization and has been approved in accordance with University procedures.

These requirements apply to all faculty, staff, and students who engage in transporting students off campus for any activity or event meeting policy criteria. This policy will be made available to students and the public by reference or inclusion in the university catalog and student handbook. (References)

MODES OF TRAVEL

The most common means of travel available to UHV students are addressed below. Each form of transportation may require passengers to follow safety precautions specific to the mode of transportation used.

Vehicles Owned or Leased by the University

The university requires a current motor vehicle record (MVR) evaluation on anyone authorized to operate a vehicle owned or leased by the university. MVR evaluations shall be requested for employees and students who operate a vehicle owned or leased by the university. Each department head will notify the Safety & Risk Manager when MVR evaluations should be obtained for new drivers. No employee, potential employee, student, or volunteer is allowed to operate a university owned or leased vehicle until authorization has been approved.

Only university employees, including student employees, who have met the university’s acceptable driver’s standards, shall be authorized to drive university owned or leased vehicles. Travel must be in compliance with UHV Policy F-2, Business Use of Vehicles, which establishes standards for granting driving privileges, insurance coverage and reporting requirements when there are accidents. (References)

Acceptable employee driver’s standards include:

  • Valid driver’s license; and
  • No at-fault accidents within the past three years; and
  • No more than two moving violations within the past three years.

Use of Personal Vehicles by Employees

No person shall be required to use his or her personal vehicle for transporting students to events organized and sponsored by the university. Because personal automobile insurance will be looked to first in the event of an accident, persons who use their vehicles while conducting university business should be aware of the possibility of personal liability related to that use.

Employees may be reimbursed for mileage at the official state rate when a personal vehicle is used for university business whether the travel is local or outside the area in accordance with UHV Policy F-1, Reimbursement for Travel and Other Expenses. (References)

Reimbursements require prior authorization through a properly approved Travel Request. (References)

Use of Personal Vehicles by Students

Students driving privately-owned vehicles for organized student travel (as defined in this policy) within the U.S. must have a valid Texas or other state driver license and possess personal automobile insurance coverage as mandated by the state of Texas, and their vehicles must have a current state inspection and registration.

Air Travel, Bus and Other Commercial Carriers

Students traveling by commercial carrier must comply with laws regulating that travel and the rules of the specific carrier.

High Profile Vehicles

  • High profile vehicles are vehicles with a high center of gravity, including pickup trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles. They are a particular safety concern because they are more susceptible to rollover accidents than most vehicles.

  • All drivers of high profile vehicles must successfully complete a safety course for high profile vehicles. Contact the Safety and Risk Management Department, Business Services.

  • The purchase or use of 15-passenger vans for university business is prohibited. 15-passenger vans are of particular safety concern as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been publishing advisories regarding these vans with multiple fatality accidents attributed to the use of these vehicles.

TRAVEL OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES

Departments, units and student organizations sponsoring organized travel outside the United States are responsible for assuring compliance with the provisions of UHV Policy, F-8, Foreign Travel. (References)

Students driving privately owned vehicles for organized student travel outside the U. S. must have all appropriate licenses, certificates and insurance required by the country they are traveling in.

SAFETY GUIDELINES FOR DRIVERS AND OCCUPANTS

Drivers and occupants engaged in student travel have an obligation to act responsibly and use sound judgment when traveling. Personal liability may be incurred in the event of an accident caused through personal negligence or violation of laws.

Students and employee drivers must:

  1. have a valid driver’s license;
  2. wear seat belts at all times;
  3. obey all traffic laws and regulations, including posted speed limits;
  4. not drive under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs or transport or possess alcoholic beverages, illegal drugs, unauthorized firearms or other types of weapons;
  5. ensure the vehicle has at least the minimum insurance required by the State, as well as a current state inspection and registration.

All drivers are encouraged to:

  1. begin the trip well rested;
  2. carry a cell phone;
  3. notify a designated contact person upon departure and arrival;
  4. avoid driving when conditions are hazardous (fog, heavy rain, snow or ice conditions);
  5. plan routes in advance, and caravan (follow each other) when possible;
  6. stop for rest as necessary; be prepared to stop the trip and check into a motel when fatigue or travel conditions warrant;
  7. rotate drivers every two hours and avoid driving between midnight and 6am. It's a good idea for a passenger or second driver to ride in the front seat and remain awake to help the driver maintain alertness;
  8. carry an emergency car care kit (available by checkout from Student Services);
  9. establish a reasonable departure and arrival time to and from the activity or event;
  10. have at least one other approved driver in the vehicle if possible;
  11. avoid taking any medications that could impede driving ability (cause drowsiness or dizziness, for example).

Passengers shall:

  1. wear seat belts at all times;
  2. not exceed the number of seat belts available or the vehicles recommended capacity;
  3. not engage in horseplay or other actions that are distracting to the driver.

Passengers are encouraged to:

  1. assist the driver with route directions, especially in congested city driving;
  2. help the driver maintain alertness by riding in the front seat and talking with the driver to help the driver maintain alertness;
  3. insist that the driver to pull over or stop for rest when conditions warrant.

TRAVEL APPROVAL PROCESS AND RECORDKEEPING

  • Student drivers must complete a UHV Travel Request for each trip and obtain the necessary approvals prior to travel. The travel request form will be used for record keeping purposes since the travel request information will include the name of each traveler, the dates of travel, mode of travel, destination and the purpose of the trip. Although the name of each passenger must be listed on the travel request form (phone # is also recommended) passengers are not required to sign the travel request. (References)
  • University employees who will be driving (including student employee drivers), must have an acceptable driver’s background check on file in accordance with University Policy F-2. The Department Travel Coordinator will verify this requirement.
  • All student travelers (driver and passengers) must complete a Release and Indemnification Agreement (References) acknowledging that they understand and accept the risks involved in the travel activity and accept responsibility for their behavior. An original release or copy of the blanket release must be attached to the travel request form for each trip for each traveler. Blanket release forms are acceptable in certain situations such as reoccurring related travel; however an annual blanket release cannot extend past the fiscal year end of August 31.

FAILURE TO COMPLY

Failure to comply with these requirements can result in one or more of the following actions:

  • Departmental suspension of student travel
  • Restrictions against specific students from participating in future group travel
  • Student disciplinary action in accordance with university policy
  • Employee disciplinary action in accordance with university policy

REFERENCES

1. Texas Education Code, Section 51.950, Policy Regulating Student Travel

2. Travel by Students to Component Funded Activity

3. Student Handbook (Student Travel Policy)

4. Student Catalog (Student Travel)

5. UHV Policy F-2, Business Use of Vehicles

6. UHV Policy F-1, Reimbursement for Travel and Other Expenses

7. Travel Request

8. UHV Policy F-8, Foreign Travel

9. Release and Indemnification Agreement

Approved by:

Signature Obtained 03/19/14
Wayne B. Beran Date
Acting President

Originating Department: Finance/Student Services

Next Review Date: April, 2017

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