Driving safely (OBUHSN-41)


The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations place a responsibility on Oxford Brookes University and on its employees to ensure that all work related activities, including driving, are managed in such a way that the health and safety employees and others is not put at risk.


This safety notice sets out the requirements for staff, students, or those with the permission of the University, who drive a vehicle on behalf of the University, and for those who are responsible for the selection and maintenance of vehicles owned, purchased, hired or leased by the University.

Related safety notices

The following safety notices give additional instructions in relation to the driving of vehicles and should be consulted as appropriate

Types of vehicle

Vehicles are classified into four types.

  • Type 1, Off Site Motorised Vehicles. These are vehicles which are owned, leased or hired by the University and are intended for use on both the public highway and on the University property. Examples of such vehicles include cars, vans and mini buses. These vehicles must comply with the legal requirements, as outlined in section 5 to permit them to be used on the road.
  • Type 2, On Site Motorised Vehicles. These are vehicles which are not necessarily licensed for use on the public highway, and are only intended to be used within University property. These include tractors, ride on lawn mowers, fork lift trucks, and the like.
  • Type 3, Privately Owned Motorised Vehicles. These are motorised vehicles, for example cars, vans or motorcycles, which belong to individuals which are used on University business, for example for journeys between campuses during the working day, or for travelling to other locations such as seminars and conferences, on behalf of the University.
  • Type 4, Pedal Cycles

Vehicle quality

University owned vehicles

It is the responsibility of the Deans of Faculty or Directors of Directorates and relevant line manager who have ownership or custody of a vehicle to ensure that it is maintained in a condition so that it may be used safely.

Off Site vehicles must be maintained in such a way that they comply with all the current highways regulations, e.g. have a M.O.T certificate if the vehicle is more than three years old and have road tax. In addition they should undergo appropriate servicing at least at the intervals that are recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

Vehicles which are intended for use solely on site must be treated as a piece of work equipment and their use and maintenance must comply with the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations (PUWER); that is they must be maintained in a safe condition, be inspected to ensure that their condition remains safe, be used only by those who have received adequate training, and be equipped with appropriate safety devices.

Privately owned vehicles

This safety notice does not specifically apply to commuting to and from work. However following the general principles of this notice is good practice for such journeys.

Privately owned vehicles used to make journeys on University business, for example to travel between campuses during working hours, must be maintained in such a way that they comply with all the current highway regulations, e.g. have an M.O.T certificate if greater than three years old, have appropriate road tax, and be fit for the intended purpose.

Those who intend to use their own motor vehicles on any University business must ensure that their motor insurance policy provides cover for such use. Business use includes travelling between campuses during working hours. Unless extended, many policies will only cover social, domestic and pleasure use, including commuting to a permanent place of work. This may be inadequate for even occasional business use.

The Dean of Faculty / Director of Directorate or the appropriate line managers should ensure that those who drive their own vehicles on University business comply with these requirements. Those who drive their own vehicle on University business will make a declaration, annually, to this effect, and will keep the University notified of any relevant changes in circumstances. Appendix 1 is an example of the type of form which may be used to make the declaration.

Vehicle Suitability

The vehicle which is selected for use must be suitable for the intended task. For example a van would usually be the most suitable vehicle for carrying parcels and postage sacks. One method to determine the suitability of a vehicle for a particular task is to carry out a risk assessment. See section 8.

Risk assessments

It is the responsibility of the Dean of Faculty / Director of Directorate to ensure that appropriate risk assessments are carried out for the activities which occur within their faculties and directorates. This responsibility includes the risks associated with driving. It is not envisaged that a risk assessment need be carried out for every individual journey. Generic risk assessments should be carried out, according to Safety Notice OBUHSN-36, depending on the type of task and journey, for example delivery of post between campuses, or journeys carried out by maintenance staff, or the use of ride on lawn mowing machines.

Loading and Unloading

When loading or unloading a vehicle, to avoid injury, try to ensure that twisting motions are avoided and that lifting from low level occurs by bending at the knee with the back kept in a straight position. For more guidance on Manual Handling, refer to OBUHSN-34

Pre journey vehicle checks

Before making use of a vehicle it is advised that the driver should carry out the following checks, inspections and adjustments.

  • Ensure that the tyres are in good condition, free of bulges or excessive wear, have sufficient tread and are properly inflated.
  • Check that all hazard warning, indicator lights, head lights and side lights are in working order.
  • Adjust the seat position to allow the feet to reach the pedals without stretching. If fitted, adjust the top of the head rest so that it is no lower than the top of the seat user’s ears.
  • Adjust the position of the mirrors to suit the driver to ensure
  • optimum all around visibility.
  • Ensure that washer bottles have sufficient water.
  • Ensure that there is sufficient fuel for the journey or sufficient to reach a petrol station.

Driver competence and eligibility

It is the responsibility of the Dean of Faculty or the Director of Directorate to ensure that those who drive vehicles on behalf of the University are competent to do so and to ensure that a system is in place to record driver’s eligibility.

  • Driver’s age. In order to comply with the University’s motor insurance policy all those who drive University vehicles must be aged 21 or over, have held a full UK driving licence, appropriate for the type of vehicle to be driven, for at least 12 months.
  • Licence Endorsements. Drivers of University vehicles should have no more than five penalty points currently on their licence. Those with greater than five penalty points must be referred to the University’s Insurance and Risk Officer, for consideration, before being permitted to drive University vehicles.
  • Foreign Licences. Holders of a European Community licence (other than a UK licence), or other foreign licences must be referred to the University’s Insurance and Risk Officer, for consideration, before being permitted to drive University vehicles.
  • Medical Conditions. Drivers with medical conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes or any other condition which is notifiable to the DVLA must declare these to the University in order that a risk assessment may be carried out in relation to their role. The University Insurance and Risk Officer must be informed so that insurance cover can be arranged. The list of medical conditions which apply can be found on the government website.
  • Regular Drivers – Off site vehicles. For those who are by nature of their job, regular drivers of off site vehicles; pre-employment inspection of driving licences should be carried out, and where appropriate, references sought from previous employers to determine experience and driving history, periodic inspections of driving licences to check for endorsements should be carried out at a frequency of at least 12 months, or more frequently if a risk assessment determines this to be necessary. Suitable records of the inspection, for example by way of retaining a photocopy of the licence, should be maintained.
  • Drivers of on site vehicles. For those who intend to drive specialised on site vehicles, such as fork lift trucks, tractors, ride on lawn mowers etc, the competency of the driver will need to be assessed before the use of the vehicle can be permitted. In most cases a standard driving licence will not be sufficient and may not necessarily be needed. Suitable training relevant to the vehicle will be required. A record of those who have been trained, have met the required standard and who are permitted to drive specialised on site vehicles will need to be maintained.
  • Alcohol and drugs
  • Smoking
  • Journey planning

Risks associated with driving may be reduced by forward planning of the journey. Before setting out on a journey the following should be taken into consideration.

Assess whether driving is the most effective way of making a business journey. It maybe more time efficient to take public transport which may enable work to be done during the journey. The Brookes Bus Service can be used free of charge on University business using a Staff Bus Pass in conjunction with a staff identity card. Taking public transport is safer than driving and fits in with the University’s Sustainable Travel Plan which aims to reduce the organisation’s reliance on the private car and reduce the University’s carbon emissions.

If driving is the selected option, preferably use motorways for cross country journeys as these tend to be safer than other types of road. Ensure that the roads to be used are suitable for the journey to be taken. Single track country roads may be unsuitable for wide vehicles or vehicles fitted with trailers.

Do not attempt to drive if feeling sleepy. Sleep related accidents tend to happen between 2-6 am and 2-4 pm , especially after having eaten a meal. If feeling sleepy, stop the vehicle in a safe place and rest for at least 15 minutes. Do not recommence the journey unless feeling alert.

Sufficient time should be allowed in order to safely complete the journey, taking into account road conditions, weather conditions and rest breaks. In accordance with the recommendations of the Highway Code, the length of time of continuous driving should be limited to a maximum of two hours with a break, in a safe place, of at least 15 minutes.

Staff shall not extend their working day beyond twelve hours, inclusive of any driving and business activity, taking into account the maximum period of continuous driving as stated above.

Driving within University sites

Whist driving on University sites, the same principles that apply to the public highway apply to the on site roads. Road signs and road makings must be obeyed. The speed limit on University sites is 10 miles per hour. Care must be taken on account of the frequent use of the on site roads by pedestrians and cyclists. Vehicles may only be parked in designated parking areas.

Mobile phones

The use of hand held mobile phones by the driver is prohibited. Although legal, the use of a mobile phone fitted with a hands free kit can be quite distracting to the driver. It is advised that before making a call, the driver park their vehicle in a safe place. When driving in an environment or in conditions where particularly high attention is required, the driver should consider not answering a call, or terminating a call, in order to enable full attention to be given to the task of driving.

It is advisable, especially when travelling in remote locations, to carry a mobile phone, in case it is necessary to call for help or assistance.


This notice applies to cycling on University business, e.g. between campuses, not commuting between home and University. However following the general principles of this notice is good practice for such journeys.

Cycle lighting must be used when bicycles are ridden between sunset and sunrise. The minimum requirement for machines made after October 1995 is that bicycles should have a white light at the front, a red light at the back, a rear red reflector and amber pedal reflectors. The lights must conform to BS6102/2 and be marked as such.

It is advised that reflective clothing or bands be worn by a cyclist in order to increase visibility of cyclists to other road users.

It is advised that a cycle helmet, marked with the "CE" symbol, is worn whenever journeys are carried out using a bicycle. Although they do not prevent accidents, a helmet can reduce the severity of head injuries and the effect of impact. A good quality helmet will usually withstand a low speed impact, but even in more extreme accidents they will provide some head protection. Ensure that the helmet fits well and that the straps are adjusted correctly. A badly fitting helmet will not give proper protection.

It is advised that cycling gloves are worn as they give protection in the event of a fall and keep hands warm in cold conditions.


In the event of a vehicle being involved in an accident which causes injury to animal(s), (an 'animal' is defined as 'any horse, cattle, sheep, pig, goat or dog,') or damage to another vehicle or a property the driver should do the following;

Remain at the site of the accident for a reasonable time in order to give the vehicle registration number, your name and address, and that of the University (if it is a University owned vehicle) to anyone with reasonable grounds for asking for those details.

If the accident causes injury to other person(s), in addition to the above, a certificate of motor insurance must be shown to anyone with reasonable grounds to see it. If the certificate is not available at the scene of the accident, the accident must be reported to a police officer within 24 hours and an insurance certificate be taken to a police station within seven days of the accident.

A note of the vehicle registration number, the name , address and insurance details of other parties involved in the accident should be made.

Do not admit any liability for the accident.

If possible, obtain the names and addresses of independent witnesses.

For any type of motoring accident which occurs, regardless of whether or not it needs to be reported to the police, a University accident / incident form must be completed and submitted, in accordance with the safety notice OBUHSN-11, and should be reported to the University’s Insurance and Risk Officer.

Issue date: 2 April 2009