Business Use of Vehicles
SECTION: TRAVEL INDEX: F-2
SUBJECT: BUSINESS USE OF VEHICLES
This document outlines the policy and procedures for the business use of vehicles owned, leased or rented by the university or its employees.
- Only employees authorized by the university may drive vehicles owned or leased by the university or rented under the university’s name;
- Vehicles may be used only for official university business while traveling in the course and scope of employment;
- Annually, a Motor Vehicle Record evaluation will be conducted to insure that drivers meet minimum acceptable driver standards;
- No employee, potential employee, or student employee, will be allowed to operate a vehicle owned, leased, or rented under the university’s name unless an acceptable Motor Vehicle Record has been received;
- Authorized drivers are responsible for complying with this policy and the requirements in UHS Policy 01-C-13, Business Use of Vehicles and UHS Policy 03.E.07, Fleet Management Plan.
The university does not maintain a fleet of vehicles for the general use of all employees. The vehicles that are owned by the university are assigned to specific departments where the need for vehicle access is a necessary requirement for daily operations. Employees may either use their personal vehicles or an authorized state contract rental agency.
Annual Motor Vehicle Record Evaluation (MVR) Procedure
The MVR provides a history of an individual’s driving records for the past three years. The Business Services Department has the responsibility for obtaining MVRs and may either run MVRs on all employees who have used university-owned, leased or rental vehicles during the previous fiscal or calendar year or may have departments provide a listing of employees anticipated to drive university-owned, leased or rentals during the upcoming year for the MVR update.
MVRs are requested through the Texas Department of Public Safety annually and as necessary for new employees and student workers who may be driving. Record checks for prospective employees having out-of-state driver’s licenses are obtained from third party providers and require that the employee provide out-of-state driver’s license information.
- Prior to extending an offer of employment to any person whose primary duties and responsibilities involve operating a motor vehicle, the supervisor will notify the Business Services Department requesting an MVR;
- Post-employment (after hire-in) MVR requests are acceptable when driving is incidental to the employees primary job responsibilities and failure to have an acceptable driving record on file will not affect an individual’s employment status.
Acceptable Driver Standards
The minimum standards required for driving privileges:
- Valid Texas driver license; (Texas law requires that an individual moving to Texas from another state must obtain their Texas Driver's License within 90 days.);
- No more than two (2) moving violation convictions or at-fault accidents within the past year, or five (5) within the past three years;
- No Driving While Intoxicated or Driving Under the Influence convictions within the past five years;
- No driving under revocation;
- No involuntary manslaughter convictions;
- No hit-and-run convictions;
- No felony with vehicle convictions.
Defensive Driving Requirement
Employees who operate state-owned vehicles on university business are required to complete a state-approved defensive driving course to increase driver safety awareness and reduce employee injuries and potential university liability. Refresher training must be completed every 3 years and a certificate of completion provided to Business Services. The cost of the required basic defensive driving course shall be paid by the university and may be taken during scheduled work hours.
Drivers Not Meeting Minimum Standards
The supervisor of an employee not meeting minimum acceptable standards will receive written notification from the Safety and Risk Manager and a copy of the notification will be forwarded to the Human Resources Department for placement in the employee's file.
Employment-related driving is forbidden at this time unless an exception is granted (below). If current duties cannot be performed without driving responsibility, the employee may be reassigned to an available, non-driving position for which the employee is qualified. If no such position is available, the employee will be terminated.
In accordance with UH System Administrative Memorandum 03.E.06, the university will use the following process when considering exceptions to this policy:
- Upon receipt of a MVR indicating unacceptable driver status, Campus Safety will inform the employees supervisor and the Vice President for Administration and Finance;
- The employee’s supervisor and Campus Safety will review, taking into consideration the type of infraction(s), whether the employee drives occasionally or frequently as a necessary part of the job and/or any other factors that may be relevant and will make a recommendation to the Vice President for Administration and Finance;
- The final decision as to whether an exception to standards will be permitted, and if so, what conditions (if any) would be imposed, will be made by the Vice President for Administration and Finance. This decision will be communicated by the Vice President for Administration and Finance in writing to the employee’s supervisor, Campus Safety, and Human Resources Department;
- The employees supervisor will communicate the decision to the employee and counsel accordingly;
- On a quarterly basis, Campus Safety will send a report to the UHS Executive Director of Safety and Risk Management explaining any exceptions granted to the acceptability criteria and the rationale for the exceptions.
Employee Drug Testing
Annual alcohol and controlled substance drug testing will be required for any employee position requiring the possession of a class A Commercial Driver License. Prior to extending an offer of employment to any person whose written position description requires a class A commercial driver’s license, written confirmation of an acceptable drug test must have been received through the Human Resources Department, who will coordinate the testing. Payment for the testing will be the responsibility of the applicant.
An approved Travel Request is required in advance for overnight travel, whether in-state or out-of-state. A travel request is not required for day travel on university related trips.
Use of Vehicles Rented or Leased by the Employee for University Business
The State Comptroller’s Office contracts with car rental agencies for discounted rental car services for State travelers on official business. Most rates include unlimited free mileage, Loss Damage Waiver (LDW) and liability coverage. Employees rent these vehicles under their own names referencing the State of Texas contract. Employees are required to use the state-contracted car rental agent if that vendor can provide the type of vehicle required in the needed location. An exception may be allowed when a less expensive rate for the same vehicle and coverage’s (LDW and primary liability coverage must be purchased) can be obtained from a non-contract rental agency.
The university does not allow car rentals to be direct billed. However, departments that have a travel card may allow rentals to be charged to their travel card when
- the rental is for group travel of four (4) or more employees traveling together; or
- the rental requires a larger vehicle, such as a truck or van, for transport of equipment or materials.
Information about state-contracted rental car companies is available on the Comptroller’s web site (See References). Questions may also be directed to the Travel Specialist, Finance Department.
Use of University Owned or Leased Vehicles
- Daily Use Reporting required – Texas State Law, Article 6252-21, Vernon's Civil Statutes, requires whoever uses an automobile shall make a written report of such use each day, providing required usage information. For this purpose, the driver must fill in the State Vehicle Use Report Log and the Passenger Log. These logs are issued with the vehicle packet to each driver or stay with the vehicle. Each department with assigned vehicles is responsible for timely submittal of monthly use reports to the Facilities Services Department for state reporting.
- Vehicle Discrepancy Reporting required – It is the responsibility of the driver to log vehicle problems in the Vehicle Discrepancy Report section of the State Vehicle Use Log. The driver must immediately notify Facilities Services of any vehicle problems so that repairs can be scheduled. The actual cost of repairs may be billed back to the responsible department. In the event of an owned or leased vehicle breakdown when traveling, the user should attempt to have the car repaired either using a university credit card or paying for the repair personally and claiming reimbursement upon return.
- University-owned or leased vehicles may be assigned to departments but not to specific employees.
- Vehicles shall not be kept at a personal residence overnight unless there is an emergency or other operational necessity approved by the supervisor.
- Students are prohibited from driving unless:
- the student is employed by university;
- the student has been authorized after MVR review.
- Smoking is prohibited in university owned or leased vehicles.
- Inappropriate use of vehicles will be reviewed by the Director of Facilities Services in accordance with the university Fleet Management Plan.
The university is not responsible for damage or loss of personal property.
Use of Personal Vehicles
An employee may be reimbursed for mileage at the official state rate when a personal vehicle is used for university business. Mileage reimbursement for local, intercity mileage or mileage to or from a local airport is not available for those employees receiving automobile allowances. However, mileage reimbursement is available to employees who receive an automobile allowance when they drive their personal vehicle to destinations that are greater than 100 miles from the university to conduct university-related business.
The state mileage reimbursement rate, which is periodically adjusted, takes into account fuel costs, wear and tear on the vehicle, maintenance and insurance.
Drivers of Owned or Leased Vehicles – Automobile liability coverage is provided for authorized drivers of university owned or leased vehicles. Details on coverage and limits may be obtained from the UHS Director of Risk Management or Campus Safety.
Drivers of Rental and Personal Vehicles – When an employee rents a vehicle in their own name or uses a personal vehicle while traveling on university business and a Travel Request, if required (overnight travel) has been approved, the employee’s personal insurance is primary and expected to cover driver liability, comprehensive and collision damage to the vehicle. The university's automobile insurance does not provide comprehensive or collision coverage for personal or rental vehicles. Should the employee's insurance carrier deny coverage or should any legal action by a third party exceeds the employee’s insurance primary liability limit, the university's automobile coverage will provide excess liability protection up to coverage limits.
When a vehicle is rented for business purposes under the State of Texas contract, the rental rate includes two kinds of insurance:
- LDW (Loss/Damage Waiver or comprehensive) – covers all damage to the rental vehicle if it was rented under the state contract.
- Liability – covers persons and property outside the rental vehicle up to designated limits. The rental car contracts do not cover persons and property inside the rental vehicle
If a vehicle is rented from a non-contract rental car vendor for business purposes, insurance may or may not be included in the base rental rate. It is the employee’s responsibility to inquire at the time of rental if LDW and Liability contract insurance coverage is included. If it is not, LDW and Liability insurance must be purchased.
Employees, while on official university business, are covered for bodily injuries by Workers’ Compensation insurance administered through the State Office of Risk Management. Employee injuries resulting from accidents must be reported to the Human Resources Department Workers Compensation Claims Coordinator immediately.
The university is not responsible for damage or loss of personal property in rental, personal, university owned or leased vehicles nor does System cover such losses.
Accident and Loss Reporting When on University Business
Accidents and losses must be properly reported in accordance with state law and campus policy. This includes accidents involving university-owned or leased vehicles as well as personal vehicles or rental cars used while on university business. Failure to report required accidents and losses may result in administrative and/or disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
Law enforcement authorities must be summoned and an accident report filed when one or more of the following conditions exist:
- an injury or death is involved;
- property damage is sustained to an apparent extent of at least $1000;
- damage to a vehicle is sustained to the extent that it cannot be normally or safely driven;
- it is a hit and run accident;
- one of the drivers is intoxicated, has no insurance or is unlicensed.
On Campus Accidents – If an accident or loss occurs on property owned by the UH System, the component’s university campus police should be contacted immediately. If the accident occurs outside the jurisdiction of campus police or if the campus does not have a police department, the incident should be reported to the appropriate law enforcement authority. On the UHV campus, the University of Houston Police Department has jurisdiction for traffic accidents.
Off Campus Accidents – An employee involved in an accident off campus must notify the law enforcement authorities with jurisdiction in that area.
For All Business Related Accidents –
- The employee must notify Campus Police and Campus Safety within 24 hours, if possible;
- Employee injuries must be reported by the employee or supervisor to the Human Resources Department Workers' Compensation representative within 24 hours if possible;
- Campus Safety will report accidents to the UH System Risk Management Administrator and insure that insurance claims are initiated if required.
Accident Review Procedure
If the accident is reportable, an accident review is mandatory. The review shall determine whether there is anything the driver could have reasonably done or anticipated that would have prevented the occurrence and whether corrective actions are recommended
Campus Safety and the Director of Facilities Services as Fleet Manager, shall conduct the review and may recommend one or more of the following actions:
- A cautionary letter;
- Enrollment in a defensive driving course with proof of completion;
- Restricted use of university vehicles;
- Attendance in traffic court with written report of proceedings;
- Assessment of part or all damage costs to university property;
- Transfer to a non-driving assignment;
- Other disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
The written recommendation will be directed to the Vice President for Administration and Finance for accidents involving staff or student employees. Recommendations involving faculty will be directed to the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. The appropriate Vice President will make the final decision and notify Campus Safety on the action to be taken. If a recommendation results in any type of personnel and/or disciplinary action, the university will follow established UH System or component university policies and procedures pertaining to that type of personnel action.
Raymond V. Morgan, Jr., Ph.D.
Origination: Campus Safety
Next review date: November 2020