University of Minnesota  Appendix

Standards and Safe Operation of Utility Vehicles


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Please use the contact section in the governing policy.

This appendix establishes consistent standards and safe operating practices for Utility Vehicles owned or leased by the University of Minnesota.

Utility Vehicles are motorized vehicles that transport people, equipment or supplies off or on a roadway.  Examples of Utility Vehicles include most low speed vehicles (no more than 25 miles per hour), including golf carts, all-terrain style vehicles and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs).

Utility Vehicle Approved Use

Utility Vehicles may only be operated on campus:

  • to transport people, equipment or supplies;
  • by an eligible Utility Vehicle operator (see next section)
  • when equipped with the "Required Equipment" identified in this appendix;
  • on a roadway, traveling at the posted speed limit or less;
  • on walkways or sidewalks in such a manner that they do not impede or interfere with normal pedestrian traffic, to a maximum of 5 mph; and
  • with the utmost courtesy, care and consideration for the safety of pedestrians who will be given the right of way at all times.

When operating a Utility Vehicle that is not licensed by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety on a public roadway, the vehicle can only be operated:

  • on roadways within the boundaries of each University of Minnesota campus (written authorization must be obtained from the appropriate road authority for use of roads outside of the University's jurisdiction including the transit way); and
  • on designated roadways only.

Eligibility Requirements for Operators

Utility Vehicle Operators will:

  • meet University driver eligibility requirements by possessing a valid United States (including all U.S. Territories) or Canadian driver’s license and a valid UCard or signed Sponsored Driver Form. A driver's license from any other country is NOT acceptable;
  • agree to obey all motor vehicle traffic regulations;
  • agree to operate University vehicles in a safe and responsible manner; and
  • complete Utility Vehicle safety training prior to operation;

Departmental Training Requirement

The department operating the Utility Vehicle is responsible to:

  • ensure operators complete training prior to operation of Utility Vehicle. View training at: Utility Vehicle Training presentation (PDF).
  • ensure safe operating practices and motor vehicle traffic regulations are followed; and
  • ensure all utility vehicle operators meet driver eligibility requirements and are included in the DRA database by the department’s DRA.

Required Equipment

Utility Vehicles are equipped with:

  • operable brakes;
  • triangular slow moving vehicle emblem visible from rear;
  • headlamps (headlights). Headlamps are to be lit between sunset to sunrise and during other low light conditions; and
  • departmental identification displayed horizontally on each side and rear.
    • Departmental identification consists of at least two alpha characters and three number digits that are a minimum of 3" in height, reflective and of a contrasting color to the background color.
    • Utility vehicles operated for six (6) months or more are required to have departmental identification displayed on the rear at a minimum.
    • Exception: Utility vehicles displaying valid motor vehicle license plates on the front and rear issued by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Operator Procedure and Performance

Utility Vehicle Operators are prohibited from:

  • handheld use of mobile devices in a University-owned vehicle, as outlined in Administrative Policy: Using Vehicles for University Business. A No Buzz Bag is available for every University vehicle (this bag blocks cell signals when a phone is placed inside of it);
  • smoking in or near Utility Vehicles;
  • using radio/audio headsets or earbuds while operating a Utility Vehicle; and
  • using Utility Vehicle for personal business such as unauthorized home-to-office travel.

Pre Trip Inspection is required at the beginning of each work shift prior to operation and must include:

  • check of tires for proper inflation and condition;
  • check operation of all safety lighting including headlamps, tail lamps, brake lights and turn signals;
  • check brakes for safe operation;
  • check for fluid leaks;
  • check that the slow moving vehicle sign is in place and unobstructed to the rear;
  • check that equipment and supplies being transported are properly secured from displacement during transport;
  • verify that all manufacturer operator warning labels are present and legible; and
  • contact supervisor immediately to report any deficiencies found during the pre-trip inspection that are/cannot be corrected prior to operation.

Defensive Driving:

Due to the small size of Utility Vehicles, operators need to drive defensively.

  • Stop at all "blind intersections"; and then proceed with caution.
  • Yield the right of way to pedestrians.
  • Cross roadways at right angles at intersections.
  • Ensure other drivers have seen the Utility Vehicle prior to progressing. Do not assume that motor vehicle drivers give "right of way."
  • Verify safety prior to all turns. Look over the shoulder in the direction of travel prior to the turn to check for motor vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Ensure use of seat belts if utility vehicle is equipped.

Passenger Safety:

Operators are responsible for the safety of their passengers.

  • Ensure operators and passengers keep head, legs and arms within the cab at all times while moving.
    • Passengers must be seated in manufacturer defined seating areas.
  • Ensure transported passengers remain in seats designed for such use.
  • Ensure the Utility Vehicles passenger load does not exceed the passenger limit and/or load capacity designated by the vehicle manufacturer.
  • Ensure passenger use of seat belts if utility vehicle is equipped.
  • Safe passenger etiquette: don’t distract the driver, wear a seatbelt if available, keep dashboard free of debris (including feet).

Off Road Operation:

When Utility Vehicles are operated off of roadways:

  • be aware of pedestrians and bicyclists;
  • avoid slopes if possible. When traveling on slopes, go up and down and not sideways;
  • watch for uneven surfaces, drop offs and overhead clearance obstructions; and
  • use curb cuts as a means of navigating from roadways to sidewalks or sidewalks to sidewalks. Jumping curbs can cause damage to the Utility Vehicle and compromise vehicle control.

Driving Safety:

Operate Utility Vehicles in compliance with the manufacturer's instructions and warnings, and drive at a safe speed given the operating conditions.

  • Excessive speed requires a greater stopping distance and may cause tip over on corners.
  • On a roadway, maintain a safe distance behind other vehicles.
  • On a bike path, do not exceed the speed of the bicyclists.
  • On a sidewalk, do not exceed the speed of pedestrians.
  • When approaching pedestrians, use extreme caution and give pedestrians the right of way.
  • Sidewalks and pedestrian or bicycle pathways must not be blocked when parking or stopping.
  • When leaving a Utility Vehicle unattended, the vehicle must be taken out of gear, ignition must be turned off and parking brake applied. Remove and secure the vehicle ignition key from unauthorized use.

Incident Reporting

In case of an accident, Utility Vehicle Operators: