Automobile Best Practices

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The following are provided by the university’s insurance advisors and the Ministry of Transportation and are based on Industry Best Practices and proven loss prevention strategies.

Recommended Driver Selection, Training and Records

Whether driving is a full-time responsibility or incidental to an employee's job duties, it is important to implement appropriate precautions to ensure the quality of every employee (or volunteer) that will be driving for the university. Using a driver selection process is one of the most important things the university can do to avert vehicle accidents. By evaluating potential drivers systematically at the onset and re-examining them annually thereafter we can help ensure the selection of reliable and skilled candidates qualified to operate our vehicles. The implementation of best practices in driver selection process can reduce the likelihood of accidents involving university vehicles and employees and in turn protect the health and safety of drivers and passengers as well as the longevity and performance of the fleet insurance policy.


All drivers must be 21 years old and carry a valid Ontario Class G driver’s licence or equivalent from another jurisdiction; only drivers with the appropriate licence are permitted to drive vehicles for Queen’s University business.

Please note: When drivers move to Ontario, they can use a valid licence from another province or country for 60 days ONLY.  After 60 days, drivers need to switch to an Ontario driver's licence. Read more information on out of province drivers.

All drivers must be approved by the Insurance and Risk Management office prior to the use of a university vehicle. The driver approval process considers an individual’s driving history including offences, demerit points and prior accidents. If a record exceeds the number of acceptable instances, the individual will not be approved for driving privileges. Acceptable tolerances and driving offence information can be found within the Highway Traffic Act Convictions document.  A new driver application can be completed here.  By completing the drive approval form, an individual allows the university and/or its insurance provider to access their licence information from time to time as Motor Vehicle Record abstracts will be reviewed on all drivers at least once every three years.

International driving permits are discouraged due to their variable application standards. Exceptions can be made when the international driving standard is known to be on par with Ontario standards.  Departments will need to follow up on this with those whom they wish to add to their list of drivers.

The use of hand-held devices is not permitted at any time when operating a vehicle (texting or hand-held cell phone use).

Vehicle Selection

It is suggested that departments and drivers carefully consider the needs when purchasing, leasing or renting a vehicle. This will depend on many factors including – type of a vehicle depending of volumes, amounts transported; with good safety record, easy maintenance. Please ensure that the person designated as driver at any given time has considerable experience driving that size and model of vehicle (ie. not all drivers have experience driving a van).

  • Drivers must at all times comply with all laws, regulations and posted signs or directions regarding speed and traffic control.
  • It is expected that drivers will inspect all areas around the vehicle before getting into it, to ensure there are no obstructions preventing safe driving.
  • When renting a vehicle, the driver should do a walk around with the agent to inspect the vehicle for any existing damages. Make sure they are documented and suggest you take pictures before and after.
  • Drivers should take a 30-minute rest break at least every four hours.
  • Drivers should drive no more than ten hours in any 24-hour period.
  • Trips requiring more than 10 hours driving time to destination should include overnight lodging.
  • Driving through the night is not recommended, nor is driving past midnight. Front passengers should remain awake to help keep the driver alert during all times if practical. A navigator should be assigned for trips to unfamiliar destinations and routes if practical.
  • Unauthorized persons are not permitted to drive the vehicle.
  • The number of passengers may not exceed the number of seat belts. All occupants of the vehicle are required to wear seatbelts at all times during vehicle operation.
  • Drinking and possession of alcohol, marijuana or illegal drugs in vehicles or driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is strictly prohibited and voids the vehicle’s insurance coverage.
  • Be careful of conditions that may lead to loss of control such as driving while sleepy or inattentive, or driving too fast for road conditions.
  • If the weather is inclement, stop and stay overnight in a safe place. The additional lodging cost is worth avoiding the risk.
  • Drivers should inspect the vehicle for safety and maintain them properly, particularly the tires. Worn or under inflated tires can increase the risk of rollover.
  • Drivers of the vehicle are responsible for payment of all traffic violation citations incurred on university business.
  • Vehicles are to be used only for University business. Any liability arising out of personal use of a University owned or rented vehicle is the sole responsibility of the driver.
  • Absolutely NO use of hand-held or other electronic devices is permitted at any time when operating a vehicle (texting or hand-held cell phone use). Stop the vehicle in a safe area to use a cell phone or other electronic device or have a passenger operate it.

Fatigue affects driver perception, information processing, and reaction times. In the extreme, it causes a driver to fall asleep. Fatigue can arise from factors including night driving, extended wakefulness, inadequate sleep, and sleep disorders.

Help drivers understand the warning signs of fatigue. These include:

  • forgetfulness
  • impaired decision making and communication
  • slower reaction times
  • staring ahead instead of scanning surrounding conditions
  • drooping eyelids
  • close calls, such as drifting into another lane or not maintaining a safe following distance

Please pay specific attention to the driver safety recommendations and what to do in the event of an accident before renting a vehicle below.

  • All off-campus accidents should be reported immediately to the local police department and note the name of the investigating officer.
  • Call 911 immediately if there are any personal injuries.
  • All injuries must be reported to a supervisor immediately, so that they can report to Environmental Health and Safety.
  • All on-campus accidents should be reported immediately to Queen’s Security at (613) 533-6733.
  • All claims must be reported to the office of Risk and Safety Services at 613-533-2005 or by email to Please complete the Vehicle Incident Report Form and submit to the Office of Risk and Safety Services.
  • Provide any other involved party with required insurance information and your name, address and telephone number. Note that requirements vary by province and state. Ask the investigating police officer for details.
  • Review the Auto Accident Checklist from to ensure collecting appropriate information.

Winter weather can start early – especially in Ontario. Follow these tips so you’ll be prepared for the first snowfall.

  • Get a maintenance checkup to make sure your vehicle is winter-ready
  • Keep your fuel tank at least half full to help reduce moisture in the fuel system and add weight to the vehicle
  • Make sure you have an ice-scraper and washer fluid that works down to -40oC
  • Limit cell phone use to conserve battery usage in case of delayed rescue
  • Put together a winter survival kit to keep it in your vehicle and include:
    • charged phone
    • water and non-perishable food
    • flashlight with spare batteries
    • blanket and warm clothes
    • jumper cables
    • shovel
    • traction mats or sand
    • candles and a lighter or matches
    • large paper or card with markers to create an emergency sign

Where possible, consider the installation of winter tires from December 1st to March 30th each year. Putting winter tires on your vehicle improves traction and control in frost, snow and icy conditions and shortens braking distances by as much as 25%.

Winter driving can be unpredictable, but some extra preparation and caution can help you stay safe. Before you leave:

  • Check the weather forecast. If it looks bad, delay your trip if you can.
  • Clear ice and snow from your windows

On the road

  1. Drive defensively, slow down and stay in control.
    • Many winter collisions happen because drivers are going too fast for road conditions.
    • Don’t use cruise control on wet, snowy or icy pavement – it reduces your reaction time and vehicle control.
    • Steer gently on curves and in slippery conditions. Hard braking, quick acceleration and sudden gear changes can cause you to skid.
    • If you do skid, release your brakes and steer in the direction you want to go. Be careful not to steer too far though or the car could spin.

  1. Give space
    • It takes longer to stop on slippery roads – make sure there’s extra space between you and other vehicles. Minimum of two-three seconds.

  1. Focus and stay alert
    • Focus on the road. Put down the phone and don’t drive distracted.
    • Pay attention to the road surface. Asphalt in winter should look grey white. If it looks black and shiny it could be covered in ice. Remember that shaded areas, bridges and overpasses freeze earlier than other sections of road.

  1. See and be seen
    • Use your vehicle’s full lighting system in poor visibility and whiteout conditions. If conditions become dangerous, pull over safely and wait for the weather to improve.

Driving near snowplows

Stay back from working snowplows and other winter maintenance vehicles (e.g. trucks spreading salt or spraying anti-icing liquid) with flashing blue lights. You’ll see them on highways before, during and after a snowfall or storm.

Never pass a working snowplow – it’s very dangerous for you and the plow driver. Sight lines and visibility can be significantly reduced by blowing snow and the ridge of snow that the plow creates. Trying to pass between or around a snowplow could result in a severe – even fatal – collision.

Be patient – it takes time to clear the roads after a snowfall. If you’re driving behind a snowplow, wait for it to finish its job. Roads are plowed in sections, so you usually won’t be stuck behind a plow for more than 20-30 minutes.

Private Automobile Usage

The university does not provide insurance coverage for the use of private automobiles on university business and cannot purchase liability insurance coverage on behalf of an owner of a personal vehicle thereby having no insurable interest. Furthermore, the university is not responsible for the maintenance of a personally owned vehicle. Queen's University accepts no liability for any loss, damage or injury that may result from the utilization of a personal vehicle for business purposes.

The university non-owned automobile insurer requires individuals who choose to drive their own vehicle on university business must carry a minimum of $1,000,000 third party liability insurance. It is recommended that higher limits be considered. Please contact a licensed insurance broker or insurer for options. 

In the event of a claim, the owner of the private automobile will be required to approach his/her own insurer for reimbursement of incurred expenses. The driver must inform his/her insurance company when a personal vehicle is being used for business purposes and pay (if any) associated increased costs in the premium. Queen's University is not responsible for these additional premium costs.

It is recommended that a personally owned vehicle be used only for short journeys where this constitutes the most economical and effective means of transportation considering all factors such as costs, time constraints, itinerary etc. The current rate of reimbursement is fixed at $0.55 per km. Further details can be found in the Travel and Expense Reimbursement Policy.