Policies and Procedures

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.


The University maintains a fleet of vehicles to support departmental missions and travel needs. The vehicles are available to faculty and staff under short or long-term rental agreement with departmental approval.

Transportation Services 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 and disposed of. Vehicle data is maintained for inventory, insurance, life cycle cost, fuel use and is reported annually 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.
    Transportation Services 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 Services 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 Services should 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.
    Transportation Services 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 in the Office of  Business Operations. Faculty, staff and departments are required to maintain a weekly mileage log to document these commutes; each month, the faculty or staff member should sign and forward the mileage log form 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 6].
    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 Transportation Services as part of the reservation request with Motor Pool. Vehicles leased annually and assigned to specific departments or individuals must also be parked off street and locked.
    The University's fueling station at Transportation Services 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 Services. 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. Vehicle Availability
    Departments may reserve vehicles from Motor Pool for daily, weekly or monthly trips by using the Vehicle Reservation Form or by calling Motor Pool dispatch at 273-2610. Current rates, established annually, can be viewed at: https://fm.uni.edu/daily-rental-and-lease-rates
    While vehicles are limited in number and are assigned on a first requested, first served basis, Motor Pool has negotiated agreements with local vendors for overflow reservations and has generally been able to accommodate all requests. Individuals/departments should complete a Travel Authorization form, authorizing the use and expense in conjunction with every reservation request. Transportation Services is responsible for assigning all vehicles. A fleet credit card and list of approved fueling stations accompanies each reservation. Drivers are expected to make every effort to fuel alternate fuel vehicles with the appropriate fuel.  Departments are annually required to complete a Departmental Authorization form, listing all approved drivers and signed by the department head.
    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. Typically, vehicles with 80,000-110,000 miles are retired from the daily fleet but are also available to departments for annual lease and travel solely within the Cedar Valley area (50-mile radius). 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 have 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 Services when such a lease is initiated. The Fleet Manager, the University Risk Manager, University Counsel and the Controller 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 Services 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 his or her personal automobile on University business does so at his or her own risk and is personally responsible for all costs of operation, including repairs to the automobile.  A person driving his or her personal automobile should have automobile liability insurance in an amount not less than $300,000 per each accident. 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.
  4. 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 and Transportation Services, who will assist in purchasing vehicles under state contracts with Regents' institutions, Iowa Department of Administrative Services and the Department of Transportation. Vehicles may be purchased under the bid specifications developed by Transportation Services and those of any of the agencies identified above. These bid specifications have been developed under, and the bid process conforms to, UNI and State of Iowa purchasing guidelines.
    If a department elects to purchase a new vehicle outside the state contract(s), the department is responsible for performing the life cycle cost analysis for weighing various bid options, per the Code of Iowa. Transportation Services 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 Services and the Office of Business Operations. In all cases, Transportation Services will assist with title, insurance and state license plates. The department making the purchase is thereafter responsible for all maintenance costs and expenses.
  5. Insurance Coverage
    University vehicles

    UNI participates with other Iowa Board of Regents, State of Iowa institutions in the Iowa Regents Self Insurance Program for liability on motor vehicles. The program responds to liability claims for property damage or bodily injury arising from an accident involving University vehicles. The Self-Insurance program includes coverage for comprehensive and collision damage to University vehicles, subject to a $500 deductible per loss. Any deductible is assessed to the department owning the vehicle. If the vehicle is leased from Motor Pool, the deductible is assessed to the leasing department if the University driver is grossly negligent. Each University licensed vehicle is assessed a monthly premium for liability insurance.
    Reporting Losses

    University drivers are required to report any accident or incident of damage related to the use or operation of University vehicles within 48 hours. Any personal injury accident should be reported immediately. Accidents involving University vehicles should be reported to Transportation Services. "Hit and run" and vandalism incidents are criminal activity and should be reported within 24 hours to the Department of Public Safety or to the police if off campus.
    Drivers must complete a Regents Vehicle Accident Report form and attach a copy of the police report and completed State report if required. A State report is required when the total damage to the vehicles is $1,000 or more, or anytime a personal injury is involved. Completed reports should be forwarded to Transportation Services. Copies of all necessary report forms are available in the glove compartment of Motor Pool vehicles or copies can be obtained from Transportation Services or UNI Public Safety.
    Claims are processed through the University Risk Manager pursuant to the Iowa Tort Claims Act, Chapter 669 of the Code of Iowa. All Regents' institutions vehicle accidents are investigated and adjusted through the State Accident Advisor/Risk Manager, State of Iowa Department of Administrative Services.
    Excess Liability (Non-owned, Borrowed, Personal Vehicles)

    For non-owned (including rentals, personal or borrowed) vehicles, the Iowa Regents Self -Insurance Program will apply only as excess liability coverage.  The University's excess liability coverage will apply when the driver was an authorized University employee on University business at the time of the loss, and the vehicle owner's policy has been exhausted. The University will not reimburse an employee, or other private owner, or their insurer for any deductible or liability claim paid by their auto insurance policy for any damage to the vehicle.
    The University's travel reimbursement program includes a provision for insurance expense in the mileage rate calculation for personal vehicle use. In an accident, the non-owned vehicle owner must look to their own automobile insurance coverage as the primary insurance. For rentals, if no liability insurance is provided with the vehicle, the minimum amount of liability insurance should be purchased.
  6. Student and Non-Employee Drivers
    It is the University's desire 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 will be verified before releasing the vehicle to the student or non-employee driver. The department authorizing the use and/or travel is also responsible for verifying the possession of a current driver's license. 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.
  7. 15-Passenger Vans
    It is recognized that a 15-passenger van may often be the most effective means of transportation for certain activities and events involving University employees and/or students.  However, Transportation Services and Motor Pool encourage the use of two 7P vans rather than a 15P van, or if a 15P van is used, then only 11 people travel in the van (with baggage placed in the back of the van). Any additional cost is negligible in consideration of the increased vehicle stability under all types of driving conditions.
    Transportation Services does maintain a rental agreement with Enterprise Auto for 15P vans and certain restrictions apply including that all student 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. 
  8. Cell Phone Use
    There is ample research and evidence to indicate that cell phone use while driving, even when hands are not used, is a distraction and a frequent cause of accidents.  Some states prohibit or restrict their use while driving.  The use of cell phones while driving a university vehicle must be in compliance with applicable state laws and regulations.   It is recommended that the University vehicle driver safely stop and park the vehicle to use a cell phone. 
  9. 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 Services is authorized to deny a vehicle to anyone if, in the sole opinion of Transportation Services, 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 the Physical Plant.
    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 3 and 5].
    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.

Motor Pool, approved August 19, 2010                     

President's Cabinet, approved December 6, 2010