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Driver Safety and Motor Vehicle Use Procedure

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    To establish guidelines for Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution employees and students and others who may drive vehicles owned by the Institution. This procedure is intended to protect people, preserve equipment, and reduce the frequency and severity of accidents involving Institution vehicles.


    Anyone who drives vehicles owned by the Institution must:

    1. Be at least 18 years of age.
    2. Possess a valid driver’s license and have a copy on file with the Institution
    3. Have an acceptable driving record in accordance with the motor vehicle records (MVR) criteria described in Section III. All drivers who submit their license may be subject to a MVR check (see Section III)
    4. Successfully complete WHOI’s EH&S Driver Safety Training prior to signing out or driving a vehicle

    Driver and passenger guidelines are as follows:

    1. Drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts at all times, even while driving in and around parking lots
    2. Drivers must obey all traffic rules, drive courteously and practice defensive driving techniques
    3. Every driver is required to maintain a valid driver’s license and a satisfactory motor vehicle driving record at all times. Any change in, including suspension, revocation or restrictions, including medical restrictions or loss of, a driver’s license must be reported to their supervisor and the Institution’s Risk Coordinator at 508-289-3517 as soon as possible
    4. Drivers are also required to report the following to their supervisors as soon as possible:
      1. Traffic violation(s) they receive during working and nonworking hours while driving on Institution business
      2. Accidents that occur while driving on Institution business in vehicles that are owned by WHOI
    5. Drivers may not operate Institution vehicles or drive during business hours after having consumed alcohol and or drugs, including legal drugs or medications that may impair their ability to operate a motor vehicle
    6. Drivers may not offer rides to unauthorized passengers not related to WHOI business
    7. Traffic violation payments are not reimbursable. Payment of all violations, including parking tickets and speeding tickets, is the sole responsibility of the driver, not the Institution
    8. Only approved drivers, who are 18 years old and over may drive vehicles that are owned by the Institution
    9. Drivers are required to observe all rules and regulations for safe driving as defined by the state in which they are driving
    10. Avoid conditions that lead to loss of control: driving while drowsy or distracted, or driving too fast for road conditions, etc.
    11. Texting while driving is illegal in Massachusetts. Cell phone use should be minimized. Personal calls should not be conducted while driving an Institution vehicle or while driving your personal vehicle for Institution business. Should you need to engage in a conversation, stop the vehicle in a safe area to take the call
    12. Always perform an inspection of the vehicle both before and after use and report any damage caused while in your possession or any needed maintenance
    13. Drivers whose licenses have been suspended are responsible for working with their supervisors to find other means of fulfilling their job duties at their own expense
    14. Drivers who are unable to drive due to medical reasons must provide written documentation from a physician and are responsible for working with their supervisors and Human Resources to find other means of fulfilling their job duties

    1. It is the practice of WHOI to obtain motor vehicle records (MVR) annually for people who operate Institution vehicles as part of their job. Also subject to annual random MVR checks are people who sign out an Institution vehicle for any reason. MVRs will be obtained prior to employment for individuals seeking positions that necessitate driving
    2. Any disciplinary action(s) taken as a result of an MVR review and/or an accident will be documented and consistently applied to all drivers who fail to comply with this program
    3. Drivers who are found to have on their record any of the following violations within the last three years may not sign out or drive an Institution vehicle. These violations may result in revocation of driving privileges, reassignment to a non-driving position, as well as disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment:
      1. Driving under the influence of alcohol (DWI, DUI)
      2. Negligent homicide
      3. Operating without a valid driver’s license
      4. Operating with a suspended license
      5. Using a motor vehicle for commission of a felony
      6. Aggravated assault with a motor vehicle
      7. Operating a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent
      8. Permitting an unlicensed driver to drive
      9. Reckless driving
      10. Involvement in a hit-and-run accident
      11. Three or more moving violations (including but not limited to speeding, failure to stop, failure to use equipment properly, etc.) in a one-year period


    Maintenance on WHOI vehicles is performed in-house at our Vehicle Maintenance Facility located in the Quissett Warehouse area. Our Vehicle Mechanic performs routine and emergency maintenance on the WHOI fleet. On occasion, major component work is handled by a few, select, outside vendors.

    Vehicle Maintenance is not responsible for pre/post operational inspection after each use. This is the responsibility of the driver who has signed out the vehicle. It is also the responsibility of the driver to report any need for maintenance or repairs to Vehicle Maintenance.

    In addition to performing maintenance of the WHOI fleet, our Vehicle Maintenance department handles the registrations and annual inspections of all vehicles.

    Please contact Vehicle Maintenance or (508) 289-2415 if you have any questions regarding maintenance or registration of WHOI vehicles.

    1. If an accident occurs, follow these procedures:
      1. If there are injuries, call 911
      2. Notify local police. If the accident occurs on WHOI property, also notify Security at 508-289-1401
      3. Obtain the following information:
        • Driver’s name, address and phone number
        • Driver’s date of birth
        • Driver’s insurance carrier and policy number
        • Driver’s license number and state of issuance
        • Make, model, color and tag of vehicle
        • Damage to all vehicles
        • If possible take photographs of any and all damage to vehicles
        • Injuries
        • Date, time and road and weather conditions
        • Names and addresses of other vehicles’ occupants and any other witnesses
        • Use the Accident Reporting form found inside the vehicle and submit the completed form to the Risk Mgt. Coordinator at or MS # 15
    2. Do not argue or make statements as to who is at fault
    3. Notify your supervisor and submit an accident/incident report as soon as possible after the accident.
    4. If at-fault for the accident, you will be required to re-take and successfully complete WHOI’s EH&S Driver Safety Training


    Failure to meet the conditions of this procedure, including maintaining an acceptable MVR, may result in revocation of driving privileges, reassignment to a non-driving position, as well as disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Last updated: June 30, 2014

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