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University to eliminate 15-passenger vans on July 1

Decision made for safety reasons

Joe Adams, associate vice president for risk management & safety, wrote this letter to University departments to announce a new vehicle policy that prohibits the use of 15-passenger vans effective July 1:

New OHIO policy (47.001) Safety, Procurement, Operation, Maintenance and Disposition of University Vehicles

President McDavis signed a new vehicle policy in December 2011. The policy combines all the requirements for OHIO vehicles thereby eliminating the need for multiple policies.

Implementation Plan, Phase 2

The two key changes and new requirements are below.

The First Item:

After July 1 2012, 15-passenger vans are prohibited from being owned, leased, and rented or in any manner used by the University.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued eight advisories about the use of these vehicles since 2001.  

As one safety expert observed:

"fifteen-passenger vans have the dubious distinction of being a vehicle that is inherently unsafe if used for its intended purpose." 

NHTSA has not prohibited the use of 15-passenger vans at public universities but they have banned the use of these vehicles in the transportation of pre-school, primary, and secondary school students. Given the extensive record of safety concerns, Ohio University has elected to eliminate the use of 15-passenger vans.

As of April 2012, five units employ 18 of these vans to transport students, employees, and university guests. To help facilitate this transition the following information is provided to all units currently
utilizing 15-passenger vans.

The University currently has 12, 12-passenger vans in its fleet. We will use Safety Funds to purchase 12 new 12-passenger vans. These 24, 12-passenger vans will replace the eliminated 15-passenger

The phasing out of 15-passenger vans will be coordinated between departments and Transportation and Parking Services.

• All 15-passenger vans equipped to transport passengers will be turned in before July 1, 2012. A limited number of extended wheel base cargo vans (15-passenger van size), not equipped to carry passengers and used for research and cargo only may be retained as long as they are used within a set of special operational limitations. Units with these vehicles must work with Transportation and Parking Services to ensure that the agreed upon operational limitations are in place.

• New 12-passenger vans will be leased to the departments who need replacements for their 15- passenger vans. These leases will be on either a long term and/or short-term basis depending on the needs of the unit.

• Additional 12-passenger vans will be made available for daily or short-term use by any university unit.

The details of these new leases such as costs and duration will be worked out with each unit involved.

However, on average, a seven-year lease of a 12-passenger van will cost approximately $275 per month or $3,300 per year. This figure includes maintenance. Credit (trade in value) will be given for the 15-passenger vans; the amount of these credits and how they are applied to the new leases will be on a case-by-case basis. For example, they may be used to reduce the overall cost of the lease or to defer the start of the lease payments. Maintenance and insurance costs should be reduced because of factory warranty and new vehicles.

Marty Paulins, director of transportation and parking services, will be contacting each department in the near future to work out all of these details.

The Second Item:

Units that own and operate vehicles regardless of the type of vehicle have the responsibility to:

  • Establish a system to ensure all drivers possess a valid U.S. Driver's license

  • Ensure that all authorized drivers have a driving record that documents a history of good behavior behind the wheel

  • Create and implement a system that records the day and time that an authorized driver operates a vehicle owned by the unit .

To meet the first requirement each planning unit should require all drivers to provide a copy of their current driver’s license and a printout of their unofficial driving record, which is available without charge at the Ohio BMV website (click on BMV online services then click on View). 

Most other states offer a similar service. At the beginning of each academic year, authorized drivers should submit to a designated person in their unit a printout of their unofficial driving record obtained from the Ohio BMV or the equivalent office in another state.                                                         
The decision of what constitutes "good behavior behind the wheel" must be made by the department responsible for the vehicle. Only the department knows how, where and when the vehicle is operated and the risks involved. A vehicle operated only around campus presents a different risk than a vehicle that is used primarily for field trips. The department is accountable for determining what constitutes "good behavior" in its authorized drivers and for articulating what it views as acceptable risk.

To meet the last requirement a simple logbook should be placed in each vehicle and completed by each driver.

A sample logbook page is available at the Transportation and Parking Services web page.

This new policy will help to insure University vehicles are operated in a safe and efficient manner and in accordance with all regulatory requirements.

Joe Adams