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Driving Program


While vehicle operation is an essential part of the services provided to the American University community, accidents, damage and abuse of vehicles represent a huge expenditure to the university. In many cases these costs are preventable. The purpose of this policy is to establish a uniform, university-wide program that:

This university policy and its associated programs apply to all drivers who may be engaged in the operation of any university-owned or -leased motor vehicles on either public or private property. This policy stipulates requirements in addition to those of other established programs such as campus traffic regulations and pedestrian safety, motor vehicle maintenance, and parking enforcement. Responsibility and authority for the enforcement of this policy has been delegated to the Office of Risk Management.

All drivers (including full-time and part-time staff and faculty, students, work-study students, and interns) must be authorized to drive university-owned or -leased motor vehicles. Authorization is valid for the term of one year for students and three years for other authorized drivers. Authorization is completed through the Risk Management office with the review of driving records.

The university is currently responsible for the operation of a fixed fleet of over 60 owned and leased motor vehicles distributed among seven departments (consisting of approximately 275 full and part-time students and employees), as well as additional motor vehicles that may be leased as needed. The university’s automobile insurance coverage includes all university-owned or -leased motor vehicles and all authorized drivers with respect to property and liability claims.

University vehicles are to be used for authorized business only. All drivers must comply with all applicable laws and regulations concerning the operation of motor vehicles. University supervisory personnel are responsible for conducting evaluations of each driver’s performance on a periodic basis, consistent with university performance evaluations and staff policies. The university maintains the right to suspend an employee’s or student’s privilege to operate a university motor vehicle at any time and for any reason.

In order to receive authorization to operate a university motor vehicle, an employee or student must:
  • possess a current and valid United States driver’s license issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles from his/her state of residence or the District of Columbia for at least two (2) years (International driver’s licenses are not acceptable)
  •  fill out completely the Application for University Driving Privileges and submit to the Office of Finance and Treasurer annually
  • fall within the "approved" or "approved on probation" status on the driver acceptability guidelines
  • successfully complete the university’s safe driver training program (annually for students and every three (3) years for employees who regularly operate university owned vehicles, or more frequently as required or deemed appropriate by supervisory personnel).

All drivers are expected to safeguard and maintain university vehicles. Improper attention to vehicle maintenance, safe operations, or violations of the university vehicle policy, may result in suspension of driving privileges. In addition to restrictions and requirements placed upon university vehicle drivers by individual departments, drivers must also:

Special Restrictions:

Athletic Department: A full-time or part-time coach or departmental-appointed program supervisor must be in a van being driven by a student, or be with the traveling party of vans in which students are driving, at all times.

As a minimum requirement, each department or group that may use a university motor vehicle is required to maintain the program procedures outlined below. The development of department specific procedures is the responsibility of individual deans, directors, or department heads. Deans, directors, or department heads may institute additional policies or procedures, as they deem necessary. The risk management office may be consulted for advice relating to additional departmental procedures and may exercise at its discretion, the right to request copies of each specific department or group's written procedures for review. The department’s or organization’s program must:

  • ensure only those individuals, who have been determined eligible and are authorized by the sponsoring department or group, operate a university motor vehicle

  • establish and maintain an ignition key control system for issuing ignition keys in such a manner so as to prevent unauthorized use of university motor vehicles

  • establish and maintain a current list of all persons within the department or group who have been determined eligible and are authorized by the sponsoring department or group to operate a university motor vehicle

  • establish and maintain a sign-in and -out log and procedures that include at least the name of eligible driver requesting authorization to use vehicle, destination and estimated duration, activity or destination, and date and time signed in and out

  • maintain each motor vehicle according to the motor vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation and the Facilities Management preventive maintenance schedules. (The Facilities Management vehicle maintenance contact phone number is 202-885-2350).

In addition to the procedures above, departmental programs should ensure the materials listed below are maintained in each university owned and leased motor vehicle:

Departmental and university sanctioned groups are encouraged to establish fleet coordinators for monitoring fleet activities, ensuring compliance with this vehicle policy and serving as a liaison with the offices of Risk Management, Public Safety, and Facilities Management.

Vehicle maintenance is the responsibility of all departments and their drivers. The majority of the annual cost of vehicle body damage to the university is preventable. When there is damage to university vehicles, drivers should immediately report the damage to their department fleet coordinator who will in turn notify Physical Plant Operations at 202-885-2350. Drivers should describe the incident that caused the damage in detail. If the damage was caused during an accident, the driver and department should follow the accident procedure described in this document.

In the event of any accident on campus or off-campus involving a university motor vehicle, the Department of Public Safety shall: 

  • take action as detailed in their departmental manual 

  • notify the risk management office of the accident and forward the accident investigation report as well as any photographs of the motor vehicles or accident scene to the risk management office within twenty-four (24) hours of the incident.

Facilities Management shall provide the following services regarding university vehicles:  

  • routine preventative maintenance on vehicles 
  • registration and tag renewals 
  • emergency breakdown repairs 
  • manage vehicle inspection logs
  • manage gas purchasing card program
  • quarterly safety checks and yearly inspections

In the event of an accident on public property, drivers must follow the following procedures:

  1. Notify the local police department by telephoning 911 and providing pertinent information concerning the accident. Do not leave the accident scene until the local police have responded.

  2. Notify the Department of Public Safety at 202-885-3636.

  3. Obtain the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.

  4. Complete the accident report form (and accident questionnaire, if necessary) located in the motor vehicle glove box.

  5. Report the accident immediately to your supervisor. 

  6. Never admit liability while at the scene of the incident. Insurance adjusters, and in some cases the courts, will determine liability after an investigation of the facts in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Drivers should speak freely and accurately to law enforcement personnel and university insurance adjusters.

For further guidance, note the instructions found in the Emergency Action Packet claims brochure. For additional copies of the brochure, contact the risk management office.  

If a vehicle needs to be towed, any local towing company can be used. Vehicles are to be towed only to American University's physical plant garage located next to the Osborn Building.

To ensure everyone that unsafe motor vehicle operating practices will not be tolerated, signs are posted on all university motor vehicles that state: "How is my driving? Call 202-885-3145"

A comment report will be completed for all complaints and forwarded to the appropriate supervisor or department head for further action to be determined.