A new employee driving policy that will go in effect next year, will require regular training of university drivers.
The Office of Risk Management revised the driving policy for university employees, effective Jan. 1, 2011. The only students affected by the changes are those who are employed by the university.
Mike Murphy, director of risk management, said a university-wide risk assessment was conducted in December 2009, and a myriad of topics were discussed, including policies on driving. He said the driver policy, which was last revised in 2003, was updated to improve safety and meet insurer’s requirements.
“We looked at the driving policies of TCU, UNT and other public and private universities out there and realized that our insurance carrier stipulates a lot of things,” Murphy said. “Obviously they want to minimize claims, and so a lot of policy changes came from what they stipulate.”
Murphy said the biggest change in the new driver policy involves training for what the university considers routine drivers, who the new policy describes as an “employee who is authorized to operate a vehicle on a routine or regular basis (daily, weekly or regularly scheduled) to conduct university business.”
Murphy said those employees would now be required to undergo a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) check. Employees who routinely drive university vehicles or rental cars will also have to undergo online training.
Murphy said he believes the new policies are actually less restrictive when it comes to driving university vehicles.
old policy required drivers to be at least 25-years-old, but the new policy sets the minimum age at 21.
“Under the new policy there is more training required of vehicle drivers. I don’t think it’s impractical or unreasonable,” Murphy said. “We feel the requirements are achievable and important.”
Murphy said the new policy changes have no affect on students and the use of their personal vehicles. He said only students employed by the university that drive regularly would be affected. The Office of Risk Management considers students to be employees if they are on university payroll or classified as workers by Human Resources.
“The policy is only directed toward employees of the university,” Murphy said. “There was a discussion in Students’ Association that created some confusion like it affected all students, but only employees are affected by the new policy.”
Murphy said most of the other changes just provide clarification on procedures from the old driver policy. He said the new policy also creates more comprehensive guidelines for reporting traffic violations and accidents.
Dr. Kim Pamplin, chair elect of the faculty senate and chair of the department of chemistry and biochemistry, said the new driver policy is fair and an improvement over earlier proposed changes.
“I think it’s reasonable. There were several concerns with earlier drafts, and I think the administration took a reasonable approach and realized the 21st Century classroom isn’t just four walls, and driving is an integral part of university life,” Pamplin said.
Pamplin said some changes to the driver policy proposed earlier would have been too restrictive. He said one early proposal would have forbidden employees from transporting students in their personal vehicles.
“We have teachers in every department in every college throughout the university who have wonderful reasons for taking students out of the classroom to learn and see the world,” Pamplin said.
Pamplin said the ideal driver policy for university employees would be free of restrictions. He said he believed the policy is reasonable but could be improved.
“It’s not the best, but it’s a fair compromise,” Pamplin said. “In its current form I think its ok. Its something we can live with.”
Murphy said he believes the new driver policy created a happy medium that everyone can be pleased with.
“The new policy is trying to help people make decisions in the best interest of the university,” Murphy said. “We feel this policy is comprehensive and a happy middle ground for everyone involved.”
A copy of the policy can be found at acu.edu/campusoffices/riskmanagement.