9.63 Motor Vehicle Usage


To establish general guidelines for the purchase, use, and replacement of University vehicles. To clarify and define the responsibilities of departments when authorizing the use of University vehicles, and individual faculty, staff and students, while using University vehicles.

Policy Statement

The University maintains a fleet of vehicles to support departmental missions and travel needs. This policy addresses the acquisition and use of motorized vehicles used for institutional purposes.


Transportation is charged with the responsibility of providing safe and economical transportation. University vehicles and vehicle operators represent the University, and use of vehicles must be in accordance with this policy and applicable law.

1. Vehicle Management

The Fleet Manager maintains detailed records on all vehicles from initial purchase and acquisition until the vehicle is removed from service. Vehicle data is maintained for inventory, insurance, life cycle cost, fuel use and is reported to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa and shared with other fleets at Iowa State University, State University of Iowa, Iowa Department of Transportation, and Iowa Department of Administrative Services. 

The Fleet Manager is responsible for establishing guidelines for the purchase/ lease and maintenance of vehicles (including golf carts on campus).  Departments must coordinate the acquisition and maintenance of vehicles (including golf carts) with the Fleet Manager and comply with all guidelines.

Transportation is responsible for determining which vehicles are safe and available for use, which vehicles require maintenance and which vehicles should be retained or retired from service. Transportation schedules and/or performs all warranty and maintenance work for University owned vehicles. If a University department has received approval for a lease agreement with an outside vendor, Transportation must be consulted with regard to any preventive maintenance work required as part of the lease agreement.

2. Official Use

University vehicles are for official business only and are to be used by authorized faculty and staff and fueled with the appropriate fuel at approved fueling stations. All drivers must have a valid and current operator's license and consent to periodic checks of their driving record.  Motor Pool will verify driver's licenses.

University vehicles are not to be used for personal errands or to transport other than authorized persons and equipment. Non-employee passengers may be transported only when their presence is necessary to the primary purpose of the trip.

Commuting from home to on-campus office and vice versa may be considered personal use under IRS guidelines. In situations where a faculty or staff member is assigned a University vehicle and uses that vehicle to commute daily or occasionally, and the commuting is considered personal use under IRS guidelines, the use must be reported as a fringe benefit to Payroll. Faculty, staff and departments are required to maintain a weekly mileage log to document these commutes; each month, the log should be signed and forwarded to their department head for approval. Departments should approve and forward the form to Payroll. Please contact the Office of Business Operations if unsure whether commuting is occurring.

University vehicles are generally not to be driven by students unless accompanied by an authorized faculty or staff member [see section 8 Student and Non-Employee Drivers].

A University vehicle may be driven to a private residence and parked overnight under certain circumstances. The vehicle must be parked off the street and locked. Arrangements to this effect must be made with Motor Pool as part of the reservation request. Vehicles leased annually and assigned to specific departments or individuals must also be parked off street and locked.

The University's fueling station across from the Transportation garage is available for all University vehicles and to drivers authorized by their department head. Alternate fuel vehicles (E85) should especially take advantage of that fuel's constant availability and reduced price per gallon at the University's fueling station. Departments annually complete a Departmental Authorization form and submit it to Transportation. Authorized drivers will be assigned a PIN # which can be used in conjunction with the vehicle's assigned fuel key. The fueling station is available from 6 AM to 4 PM Monday-Friday. The fueling station is available to state- or university-owned, leased or rented vehicles only.  It is not available to personal vehicles, even if traveling on University business.

3. Operating a University Vehicle

3.1 Safety Belt/Harnesses and Child Restraint Devices

Driver and passengers must be in compliance with applicable state laws and regulations requiring the use of seat belts and restraint devices.

3.2 Alcoholic Beverages and Illegal Drugs

No illegal drugs or alcoholic beverage containers (empty, full, open or closed) are allowed in university-owned vehicles. See also UNI policy 4.13 Drug-Free Workplace and Schools and UNI policy 13.18 Alcohol and Drugs.

One exception regarding alcoholic beverages would be university-affiliated organizations and departments which possess dram shop licenses. During the normal course of these operations, it is necessary to acquire the stock to sell. These organizations may transport full and unopened containers as cargo only.

3.3 Operating a University Vehicle - Cell Phone Use

The use of cell phones while driving a university vehicle is discouraged and must be in compliance with applicable state laws and regulations.

4. Vehicle Availability

Departments may reserve vehicles from Motor Pool for daily, weekly or monthly trips by using the Vehicle Reservation Request Form or by calling Motor Pool at 273-2610. Rates are established annually and current rates may be viewed at Daily Rental and Lease Rates.

While vehicles are limited in quantity and are assigned on a first requested, first served basis, Motor Pool has an agreement with a vendor for overflow reservations and is generally able to accommodate all requests. Individuals/departments should create a trip in ProTrav and have the necessary travel approval, authorizing the use and expense in conjunction with every reservation request. Transportation is responsible for assigning all vehicles. A fleet credit card for fueling off campus accompanies a reservation when necessary. Drivers are expected to make every effort to fuel alternate fuel vehicles with the appropriate fuel.

Vehicles may be leased to departments on an annual basis. Leases for the academic year (10-month), summer or other options may be arranged at the direction and discretion of the Fleet Manager. Lease arrangements are subject to vehicle availability and division head approval. Lease cost is billed monthly and includes maintenance costs and liability insurance. Leased vehicles are assigned a fuel authorization key and approved drivers' personal identification numbers.

Under rare or special circumstances, departments may find it necessary to lease a vehicle from a local vendor. The department initiating the lease is responsible for notifying Transportation when such a lease is initiated. The Fleet Manager, the University Risk Manager, University Counsel and the University Treasurer will review the lease prior to signature and the department will be responsible for lease costs and any damages not specifically covered under the lease agreement. After approval, it is the department's responsibility to notify Transportation when the vendor lease expires or is terminated.

Faculty and staff authorized to travel on University business may elect to use their personal vehicle. A person driving their personal vehicle on University business is responsible for all costs of operation, including repairs to the vehicle resulting from an accident.  In addition they must have personal auto insurance that meets or exceeds state requirements. Reimbursement for the use of a personal vehicle is authorized at the current rate approved by the Board of Regents and the University (see mileage rates in the Travel Guidelines). Individuals traveling more than 12,000 miles annually in their personal vehicle may be required to use the University Motor Pool.

5. Vehicle Purchase

A department may purchase a new vehicle if approved by the division head and within the Board of Regents and State of Iowa imposed limitations. Departments should contact the Fleet Manager in Transportation who will assist in purchasing vehicles under state contracts.

A department may purchase a new vehicle outside the state contract only with the prior approvals of the Fleet Manager and Procurement Services.  The department is responsible for performing the life cycle cost analysis for weighing various bid options, per the Code of Iowa. Transportation can assist with that analysis by providing current fuel efficiency information and projected fuel cost data. A copy of the life cycle cost analysis must be provided to Transportation and the Office of Business Operations

In either case, Transportation will obtain title, insurance and state license plates. The department making the purchase is thereafter responsible for all maintenance costs and expenses.  All service must be done through Transportation.

6. Insurance

The University participates in the Iowa Board of Regents Motor Vehicle Liability Program (MVLP). The MVLP is a self-insurance program initiated by the Board of Regents in place of commercial insurance. All vehicles are assessed a monthly premium for their participation in the MVLP. Any deductible assessed by the MVLP is the responsibility of the department owning the vehicle. If the vehicle is leased from Motor Pool, the deductible is the responsibility of the leasing department.

When using a personal vehicle for university business, an individual must have personal auto insurance that meets or exceeds state requirements. The MVLP may offer excess liability coverage only. The MVLP does not provide first party coverage in these circumstances.

When using a rental vehicle for university business, the Office of Business Operation’s Travel Guidelines should be followed to ensure appropriate insurance coverage is obtained. 

All insurance claims are processed through Risk Management.

7. Reporting Accidents, Damage, or other Losses

University Vehicle Accident Reporting Procedures are included in the Vehicle Accident Packet in the glove compartment of each vehicle. Required forms are also available from Transportation or UNI Police. The driver must complete all required forms and return to Transportation within 48 hours.

Any personal injury accident should be reported immediately to UNI Police or to the nearest law enforcement agency if off campus. "Hit and run" and vandalism incidents are criminal activity and should also be reported immediately to UNI Police or to the nearest law enforcement agency if off campus. Any other damage must be reported to Transportation within 48 hours of discovery.

8. Student and Non-Employee Drivers

The University desires to limit the exposure of both student and non-employees to injury and the University to liability where University vehicles are in use. Vehicles owned by the University are for official business only and are for use by authorized faculty and staff. Only under special circumstances is a student or non-employee authorized to drive a University vehicle. As a general rule, University vehicles are not assigned to students or non-employees. All students or non-employees who may be allowed to drive University vehicles must possess a valid and current driver's license which must be verified before releasing the vehicle to the student or non-employee driver. The department authorizing the use and/or travel is responsible for insuring driver's license verification [see section 2 Official Use]. Except in special circumstances, an authorized faculty or staff member should also be present in the vehicle. A program that involves students or non-employees who are performing a specific assignment (e.g. recruitment of prospective students, tour guides, student government responsibilities) may be authorized to drive by the department requesting and reserving the vehicle.  Intercollegiate Athletics has special guidelines for team travel.

9. 15-Passenger Vans

Transportation has an agreement with a vendor for 15P vans and certain restrictions apply including that all drivers must be at least 21 years of age. Each passenger must wear a seat belt and the driver should not start the vehicle without verifying. A maximum of 11 people may travel in the van (with baggage placed in the back of the van). All drivers must complete 15P van training through Risk Management.

10. Driving Privileges

The University has a vital interest in the safe driving of its employees. It is in the best interest of employees and the University to take corrective action whenever it appears that a problem may exist with an individual driver or group of drivers using University vehicles or their personal vehicles on University business. Transportation is authorized to deny a vehicle to anyone if, in the sole opinion of Transportation, there is any reason the Motor Pool vehicle may not be operated safely.  If driving privileges have been denied, faculty and staff may elect to appeal that decision to the Director of Facilities Management.

There will be times when the Fleet Manager may determine that inclement weather conditions make travel inadvisable and unsafe. Under such conditions, the Fleet Manager may cancel Motor Pool reservations with little notice and authorizing departments will not be billed for the cancelled reservation. Faculty and staff must use their own discretion regarding the use of their personal vehicles in these instances, under the guidelines noted earlier [see sections 4 Vehicle Availability and 6 Insurance].

Occasionally the Fleet Manager will receive questions, concerns or complaints involving the use or possible misuse of University vehicles or possible inappropriate fueling. The Fleet Manager will query the driver who reserved the vehicle and the department head of the authorizing department and respond to the complainant. An unacceptable response could lead to the suspension of driving privileges and/or further action, including progressive disciplinary action by the authorizing department.

Additional procedures regarding Motor Vehicle Usage are located on the Facilities Management web page at https://fm.uni.edu/motor-pool and https://fm.uni.edu/transportation

Facilities Management, approved February 2020
University Council, approved November 9, 2020
President and President’s Cabinet, approved November 30, 2020 
[Last reviewed and/or updated 11/2020, 12/2010]