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Driving on State Business RisKey
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A Guide to Frequently Asked Questions
   
Questions on driving on state business and the use of state vehicles are some of the most frequent calls that come into the Risk Management Division. We’ve complied these questions to help you understand the state’s policy that, when on state business, you must drive legally, safely and courteously.  
 
These questions do not cover all the requirements of the State’s Vehicle Use and Access Rules, OAR 125-155.

  
Highlights:

1. My agency is not under DAS vehicle regulation. Do state rules apply? 

 
A few agencies, such as SAIF Corporation and Lottery, are not subject to ORS 283.310. They may opt out of the rules (OAR 125-155). They do so by written notification to the Risk Management Division (RMD). They also need to provide a copy of the policy they will use in place of the rules. Otherwise, they are subject to the rules under ORS 278.405. That means agencies not subject to the vehicle rules in OAR 125-155, must have a policy acceptable to DAS-RMD in order to qualify for the state’s self-insurance coverage. If this is not done, they drive uninsured, i.e., no state coverage. The state’s self-insurance automobile coverage and the excess automobile coverage would not apply to them. 
 
However, whenever you drive a DAS vehicle or the vehicle of any agency that is subject to the rules, the rules apply to you. OAR 125-155-0900(2) 

 
2. Who can drive a state vehicle?

 
Generally, an authorized adult with a valid license, who is acting at the direction and control of a state agency, can drive a state vehicle. That includes state employees, volunteers and agents. Certain others are allowed to drive with special permission or restrictions. 

 
No one may drive a state vehicle for any personal purposes. No one may drive who is not acting under the direction and control of an agency. Examples of prohibited drivers include your spouse, family or friends; anyone under age 18 and unlicensed drivers. OAR 125-155-0400 & 0500

 
See the Vehicle Incident Prevention Project (VIPP) Toolkit for a summary of authorized drivers.

 
3. Who can I take as a passenger?

 
An authorized driver may transport anyone as needed to accomplish state business. Examples of authorized passengers include the state’s clients, employees, volunteers, agents, and authorized observers or ride-alongs. With conditions and with agency permission, state guests, a driver’s spouse, and certain others may ride. OAR 125-155-0420
 
No one may ride for personal purposes in any state vehicle or in a private vehicle being used for state business. Prohibited passengers include hitchhikers, your pets, friends, family and children. OAR 125-155-0420
 
The following drivers shall obtain prior agency approval to transport any passengers on state business: any authorized driver whose license is a hardship permit and all agents, volunteers, and students. OAR 125-155-0420(5)
 
See the Vehicle Incident Prevention Project (VIPP) Toolkit for a summary of authorized passengers.

 
4. When does state tort liability and workers´ compensation coverage apply?

 
The state’s tort liability and workers’ compensation coverage is extended to you when you are performing official duties at the state’s direction and control. The coverage goes with you when you travel on official state business.

 
If you will be working out of state for an extended period (usually more than a month), check with your agency Risk Coordinator or Safety Manager about workers’ compensation coverage requirements. Each state has different standards for when their state’s coverage is necessary. If you need out of state workers’ compensation coverage, Risk Management needs at least two weeks advance notice to arrange for it.
 
5. What vehicles are covered by the state´s self-insurance program?
 
The state´s self-insurance program covers both state and private vehicles. The coverage differs. (See Question 6.)
 
The Vehicle Use and Access Rules, OAR 125-155, defines these vehicles as follows:
  • State vehicle - A motor vehicle owned, rented, borrowed, leased, or otherwise under the possession and control of the state. A commercially rented vehicle is a state vehicle if it is rented and used by a duly authorized employee at the cost of the state, solely for official state business.
  • Private vehicle - A motor vehicle that is owned, rented, borrowed, leased, or otherwise lawfully in the possession and control of any private person or any entity other than the state. A commercially rented vehicle is a private vehicle if it is rented or used for private use or any mix of private or state uses.
6. What type of coverage is provided by the state´s self-insurance program?
 
It depends on the vehicle type/status.
  • State vehicle - The state provides physical damage, uninsured motorist, personal injury protection, and tort liability for property damage or bodily injury to others.
  • Private vehicle - The state only provides excess liability coverage if the loss exceeds the private auto´s policy limits. There are conditions for coverage. There is no state coverage for property damage (collision or comprehensive coverages) to the private vehicle.
See the Vehicle Incident Prevention Project (VIPP) Toolkit, Vehicles and State Insurance Coverage, for additional information.
 
7. Are there any conditions that must be followed for state insurance coverage to apply?
 
Yes, there are conditions for coverage. Generally, you must be using either the state or private vehicle in accordance with the Vehicle Use and Access Rules, OAR 125-155, solely for authorized official state business within state directives. Other conditions may apply.
 
8. Is the state´s automobile insurance coverage valid outside of Oregon?

 
The state’s automobile coverage is valid in the United States, its possessions, territories and Canada.
 
See the Vehicle Incident Prevention Project (VIPP) Toolkit, Vehicles in Foreign Countries, if you plan to drive in a foreign country.
 
9. Is my personal property covered when I am traveling?

 
No, even though you are traveling on state business, the state cannot cover your personal property that is lost, damaged, or stolen. Check your homeowner or renter’s insurance policy for coverage information. 
 
10. What property does the state cover?

 
Only property the state owns, rents, leases, or personal property that the state agrees to cover by prior written agreement is covered by the state´s self insurance.
 
When traveling, protect high-risk items from theft. Keep laptop computers out of view. The trunk is probably the safest place for state property. Lock car doors and roll up windows every time you exit the vehicle.

 
11. I have rented a vehicle. Do I have to purchase the rental company´s liability and property damage coverages?
 
It depends on the vehicle status and type of rental agreement.
 
Official State Business:
If the commercially rented vehicle is rented and used by a duly authorized employee at the cost of the state, solely for official state business, it is considered to be a state vehicle for the purposes of loss settlement.
  • You do not need to purchase the rental coverage if you use the master price agreement. Insurance coverage is provided as part of the rental cost as long as the vehicle is used in accordance with this agreement.
  • If you need a vehicle for an area in the United States not covered by the master price agreement, purchase the Limited Damage Waiver (LDW) at the time of rental. A LDW is a provision in many auto rental contracts charging an extra fee to the person renting the vehicle. In exchange, the rental company waives some of its right to recover its cost of physical damage and some other types of losses (loss of use, etc.) from the renter. 
  • If the LDW is available and not purchased by the agency, at the time of vehicle rental, the agency´s loss settlement will be affected in the event of a loss. For more information see Vehicles and State Insurance Coverage, Vehicle Incident Prevention Project (VIPP) Toolkit or the Property Self-Insurance Policy.
  • Agencies should only purchase the property damage coverage when renting a vehicle solely for official state business. Do not purchase the rental company´s liability coverage. Liability coverage will continue to be available from the state´s self-insurance program.
Private Vehicle Status:
If you plan to use the commercially rented vehicle for any mix of private and state uses it is considered to be a private vehicle for the purposes of loss settlement.
  • The purchase of a Limited Damage Waiver is not required, because there is no state coverage for this vehicle. It is up to the driver to provide private insurance coverage on a mixed use commercially rented vehicle.
  • If you do not have insurance, or your insurance company will not cover the use of a commercially rented vehicle, you may want to consider purchase of the rental company´s liability and property damage insurance. If there are questions about the correct insurance coverage for the rental vehicle, check with your own insurance agent for advice. (See Question 13 for information on state insurance coverage for private vehicles.)
  • A commercially rented vehicle used for mixed purposes cannot be rented in the name of the state.
12. Do you recommend that I get proof of insurance from Risk Management for the rental vehicle?

 
If you plan to use a rental vehicle exclusively for official state business, contact us at (503) 373-7475 for a Certificate of Coverage. It will prove to the rental company that you have insurance coverage.
 
Or, you can rent a vehicle for official state business using the state’s master price agreement. Insurance is included. A Certificate of Coverage is not necessary.
 
13. Does the state cover me while driving a private vehicle on state business?
 
It depends.
  • When using a private vehicle on state business, private auto insurance is always the primary coverage, i.e., it applies first.
  • There is no state coverage for property damage (collision or comprehensive coverages) to the private vehicle.
  • The state´s liability coverage may apply. If there is an accident while using a private vehicle for state business, and the loss exceeds the private auto´s policy limits, the state´s liability coverage may apply to amounts over the private auto´s policy limits.
  • The state´s liability coverage is excess. There are conditions for coverage. You must be using the vehicle in accordance with the Vehicle Use and Access Rules, OAR 125-155, for authorized official state business within state directives.
  • No private vehicle is covered in any way by the state while it is being used for any personal purpose or contrary to state directives.
If there are any questions about appropriate coverage for the private vehicle, check with your own insurance agent for advice.
 
See the Vehicle Incident Prevention Project (VIPP) Toolkit, Vehicles and State Insurance Coverage, for additional information.
 
14. Do state agencies need to use an approval process for the use of personal vehicles on state business?

 
Risk Management does not require that your employees or volunteers obtain written approval to drive their own vehicles. However, it is a good policy to put it in writing.
 
15. The rules say I cannot take my family in my own vehicle when I go on state business. Isn’t my vehicle and family my business?
 
Yes, the rules agree with you. They say that when you take your family in your vehicle for your reasons, you are on your own personal business, not state business. That means you and your family travel at your own risk, not the state’s. OAR 125-155-0420
 
16. Can my family ride in the rental vehicle?

 
Yes, if your agency grants permission for your family to accompany you, they can ride in the rental vehicle. A manager with policy-making authority should give this permission. Note: When the rental is used for any personal purpose (sight-seeing, carrying your family) the rules say it is a private vehicle.

 
Your family rides at their own risk or the personal risk of the driver. The state will not insure or indemnify friends or family nor insure or indemnify the employee against any claims brought by friends or family. OAR 125-155-0420
 
17. So, I am on personal business when my family rides in the vehicle. Does that mean I lose mileage reimbursement?

 
No. As far as the vehicle rules apply, being on personal business just means the state’s insurance and self-insurance do not cover you. Why? Because you are not acting under state direction and control. 
 
Travel reimbursement repays your costs of getting from Point A (probably your office) to Point B (where state work is to be done). Think of it this way. Travel meals and lodging are also reimbursed. But, the state does not tell you what to eat and when to go to sleep. Nor does it insure your eating and sleeping. OAR 125-155-0420, 0500-0520

 
18. Even if I travel at my own risk, do the rules still say I cannot take my family along?

 
The vehicle rules say you may not take your family because the rules only control state business not personal business. Therefore, when you drive a private vehicle, you make a choice. You choose to be under state direction and control by following its vehicle rules and other directives. Or, you choose to ignore the rules and travel at your own risk. OAR 125-155-0700 & 0800

 
19. Okay, but my agency says I cannot take my family along at all, no matter what. Can I ignore them? 

 
No. Your agency may direct and control the timing, method, manner, and means of your work. Your agency could prohibit you from driving today, driving to some site, or driving at all. So, it can say, “Go, but leave your family at home.” Also, the state accounting manual says you can get mileage reimbursement only if your agency agreed to let you use a private vehicle instead of a state vehicle. Your agency can attach conditions to its consent. This consent only qualifies you for mileage reimbursement. It does not extend the state’s self-insurance coverage to your family or others. DAS-SCD Oregon Accounting Manual, Chapter 40 – Travel.
 
If any of us disregard lawful directives from our agency or supervisor, we risk the full range of disciplinary actions. The vehicle rules do not create or alter this basic fact of employment. So, if your agency restricts your vehicle use, you must comply with those restrictions and with the state vehicle rules. OAR 125-155-0800

 
20. Can I ride my motorcycle on state business?
 
The answer is based on the Vehicle Use and Access Rules.  Look at OAR 125-155-0500(5)(g) on General Vehicle Use.
“Private specialty vehicles and private off-road vehicles shall not be used for state business except to the extent that an agency determines that necessary state business cannot reasonably be accomplished without the use of the particular private vehicle.”
So, what is a “Private Specialty Vehicle?” Look at Definitions under OAR 125-155-0010(13).  
“Private specialty vehicle” means a private vehicle that is a motorcycle or other two or three-wheeled vehicle designed for one or two riders.
If an agency makes a determination that the necessary state business cannot be reasonably accomplished without the use of the particular private vehicle, this justification should be put in writing and kept on file. If a liability claim occurs and the state is put on notice by a third party, the Risk Management Division will request a copy of this document. At that point, Risk Management will review the agency’s decision and determine if state excess vehicle liability coverage applies to the situation.
 
21. The rules say obey the law. Do I lose state coverage if I get a traffic ticket or a parking violation?

 
Yes and No. The state will not pay your fine. In some cases, your agency could revoke or restrict your driving privileges or take disciplinary action. However, the state´s self-insurance program provides auto liability coverage for authorized state drivers on state business. In general, the state’s policies say the state pays if your negligent driving causes injury or damages, even if your driving mistake earned you a traffic citation. The state´s self-insurance program will not pay or defend you if your negligent driving was deliberate, grossly negligent, malfeasant, an abuse of office, or intended to do harm. 
 
22. I have had no driver training and I got two speeding tickets this year. Can I still drive?

 
Yes, unless you fail to meet agency standards or policies. The rules leave it to agencies to set any driver training and driving record standards. However, if your agency has an exceptionally bad driving record, it would go on trial status. On trial status, it would have to follow standards set by the state rules. OAR 125-155-0200 & 0300

 
23. Can I still drive on state business if my license is suspended or restricted but I get a Hardship or Probationary Permit from DMV?

 
No. DAS Risk Management no longer authorizes or issues Hardship Permits for state employees. 
 
24. How can I use a state vehicle on day trips?

 
State vehicles may be used for all assigned duties and for food and breaks along and near the necessary business route. State vehicles shall not be taken to or from the duty station for any personal day-use purposes. You may not drive from the office to lunch or to personal grooming, exercise, shopping, or appointments. Personal travel between home and the driver’s official duty station is prohibited. OAR 125-155-0510
 
See the Vehicle Incident Prevention Project (VIPP) Toolkit for a summary of authorized vehicle use.

 
25. What about overnight trips?

 
When you are away from home overnight, you may use the state vehicle for certain needs that cannot be met without minimal use of the vehicle. When you need to, you may make minor, close by trips to stores and facilities for grooming, medical care, fitness, and laundry. You can also visit the local theater, park, or a private home. Exercise prudence whenever you are in a state vehicle. Every misuse reflects badly on all state employees. OAR 125-155-0520

 
Whenever you use a private vehicle for your personal needs and purposes, you do so under your own control and at your own risk. OAR 125-155-0520

 
See the Vehicle Incident Prevention Project (VIPP) Toolkit for a summary of authorized vehicle use.

 
26. Can I use a state vehicle to commute or travel between my official duty station and home?

 
No, commuting is a personal activity. Personal use of state vehicles is prohibited. See ORS 283.395. Commuting is not addressed, per se, in the rules because it is prohibited. Unless you qualify to garage a state vehicle at your home overnight per OAR 125-155-0600, you may not use a state vehicle to travel between your home and work.
 
27. Is anyone authorized to use a state vehicle at all times and places?

 
Yes, specific state positions are recognized to be “on duty” at all times. A special vehicle exemption allows the use of specially equipped state vehicles at all times and places. See OAR 125-155-0900(9). These positions are limited to: 
  • The Governor
  • The Director of the Department of Corrections
  • The Adjutant General of the Military Department
  • The Superintendent of State Police 
28. May I take a state vehicle when I telecommute (Telework)?

 
It depends. Telecommuting, now called “telework” is defined in DAS - Human Resource Services (HRSD) Division Policy 50.050.01 (pdf). It is a mutually agreed upon work option. The employee performs work on specified days at an alternate worksite, often their home. It is not a change in official duty station. 
 
An agency may allow a state vehicle to be parked at home when a task or trip requires a driver to depart so early or return so late that it is impractical to pickup or return the vehicle to state parking on the same day. For long-term assignment of a vehicle to home, an agency must do a cost-benefit analysis. An agency may allow an employee to park a state vehicle at home when it will clearly reduce state paid time to permit a driver to park a state vehicle at home while on temporary assignment away from the duty station. This decision must be to the benefit of the state to provide its vehicle. OAR 125-155-0600

 
29. When may I park a state vehicle overnight at my home? 

 
Your agency must find that it is to the state’s benefit to let you do so. Say you need to drive to a meeting at another city. You will have to leave very early or return very late. It makes sense to let you take the state vehicle home the night before or after. 
 
If you need approval to park at home long-term, your agency must do a cost benefit analysis. It must also find that one of several specified conditions exists. No one may be allowed to take a state vehicle home as a perk or as compensation. OAR 125-155-0600

 
30. What if my official duty station is my home?

 
For long-term assignment of a vehicle to home, your agency must do a cost-benefit analysis. An agency may allow an employee to park a state vehicle at home when the driver’s home is his or her official duty station from which he or she engages in virtually full-time fieldwork away from the office or motor pool. This decision must be to the benefit of the state to provide its vehicle.
 
Note: Your agency must designate your home as your official workplace. You may use a state vehicle only for official state business. No other use is allowed. For example, you may not use the state car to take your children to school. You may not use it for personal errands. If your home is your official workstation, then you may use the state car to travel to your agency office for official meetings. OAR 125-155-0600. However, this may be a personally taxable event. (See Question 33.)

 
31. What must be done to justify travel between my home and my official duty station in a state vehicle? 

 
There are times when it is in the state’s interest to allow a state vehicle to be driven to and garaged at an employee’s home. For long-term assignment of a state vehicle to home, agencies must perform a cost-benefit analysis and maintain documentation. They must also meet one of the following conditions: OAR 125-155-0600(2).
  • Assigned, normal duties require the driver to frequently travel to urgent, unscheduled fieldwork after hours. 
    • The mere possibility of being called-out is not sufficient. Call-outs must actually occur with justifiable frequency. 
    • Call-outs must be urgent and unscheduled.
    • After hours meetings or community events would not necessarily meet this expectation.
  • The driver´s home is his or her official duty station from which he or she engages in virtually full-time fieldwork away from the office or motor pool. 
    • Generally, telework (as a part time duty station) would not meet this condition.
  • It will clearly reduce state paid time to permit a driver to park a state vehicle at home while on temporary assignment away from the duty station.
  • Other circumstances caused by state business in which home garaging will clearly reduce direct costs of the agency. 
32. How should an agency document the required conditions and the state’s benefit?
 
Allowing an employee to have a state vehicle at home occasionally:
  • A task or trip requires a driver to depart so early or return so late that it is impractical to pick up or return the vehicle to state parking on the same day. Document times and distances.
For long-term assignment:
  • The agency must do a cost-benefit analysis. The analysis must consider: 
    • The costs and risks of daily travel to the home,
    • The frequency of call-outs, 
    • Parking risks,  
    • Any salary savings, and 
    • Other factors.
In any situation:
  • The analysis should weigh reasonable alternatives such as the cost of reimbursing private vehicle mileage.
33. What are the tax implications of driving a state vehicle home for the employee?

 
Every employee who uses a state vehicle to travel between the official duty station and home may be creating a personally taxable event. 

 
The Oregon Accounting Manual provides guidance on documenting and collecting this debt. See Tax Issues: Fringe Benefits – Vehicles, Policy 50.30.00.PO (pdf), and Procedure 50.30.00.PR (pdf).
 
Simply reporting the mileage and paying the taxes does not establish that this vehicle use is allowed. Analysis and documentation of the state’s benefit from the travel between the employee’s home and work must still be done. OAR 125-155-0600
 
34. What do I do when a state vehicle needs maintenance, breaks down, or is damaged in a crash and needs to be towed? 

 
DAS-Fleet has published a DAS Fleet Management Policy (pdf) for Controlling, Regulating and Managing State-Owned Passenger Motor Vehicles. This policy may be found on their Web site or in the glove box of the state vehicle. (It is also known as the Green Book.) If your agency has its own vehicles, contact your agency fleet manager. 

 
See also the Travel Toolkit, Section 3: Road Trouble in a State-Owned Vehicle. 

 
35. What do I do if I am in an accident with a state vehicle?

 
Each state vehicle has an Accident Report Packet in the glove box. It gives the state driver instructions and information. State drivers are expected to act reasonably and fulfill the duties of a driver. Use the packet to exchange and gather information with others involved. Obtain witness information. Call RMD promptly if anyone is taken to a hospital or a vehicle is towed. Otherwise, follow your agency policy on incident reporting. 

 
See also:
  • Travel Toolkit, Section 3: Road Trouble in a State-Owned Vehicle.
  • Vehicle Incident Prevention Project (VIPP) Toolkit – Accident Reporting
36. What do the rules say about safety?
  • Drive within the law. 
  • Follow all legal precautions when carrying dangerous materials. Carry passengers with the materials only with their consent.
  • Everyone must wear correct safety restraints.
  • No alcohol consumption, influence, or transport.
  • No illegal drugs or contraband.
  • No firearms, except as lawfully required by your agency, or unloaded and packaged for official business.
  • No smoking in vehicles designated non-smoking.
  • No private motorcycles or ATVs unless the agency finds its work cannot be done without it and authorizes use in writing. Helmets must be worn. OAR 125-155-0500
37. Can exceptions to the rules be made?

 
It depends. Exceptions require a written variance from the Director (or designee) of the Department of Administrative Services. OAR 125-155-0900(10)

 
38. I am a local government driver. Do the vehicle rules apply to me? 

 
The vehicle rules shall not apply to a state-owned vehicle used by federal, local, other state government, or other entities when the vehicle is furnished and used under the terms of an inter-governmental agreement, instate- or intergovernmental-compact, or similar agreement. OAR 125-155-0900(3)

 
You drive a state vehicle under a contract between your employer and DAS Motor Pool. The terms and conditions of that contract regulate your use of state vehicles. The state does not insure you or your passengers. Follow the terms of your contract.

 
39. Why are the rules so strict?

 
The Oregon legislature directed the Department of Administrative Services to narrowly interpret the statutes regulating state vehicles. In addition, state vehicle use and driving, in general, is a serious activity and rife with significant exposure to loss. The majority of the vehicle rules are designed to limit liability and minimize risk.

 
40. Summary of Hot Links.
 
Rev 3/24/05