When traveling domestically, student organizations should be mindful of the following practices to ensure the safety of all who travel with the group.
- Charter Services
- Student Drivers
- Valid Drivers
- Driver Guidance
- Automobile Insurance
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Academic Commitments
It is best whenever possible to hire a professional and reputable transportation provider particularly when traveling longer distances or with larger groups. Please contact Harvard Transportation Services to discuss your needs and inquire about preferred vendors. Special rates have been negotiated for the benefit of student organizations.
College students are adults, and the College expects them to weigh carefully the responsibility that comes with agreeing to drive other students for any reason. Students who elect to drive should note the following information regarding insurance, vehicle maintenance, driver tips, trip planning and weather considerations. Check out these Initial Considerations on Safer Travel.
A valid driver:
- has a valid U.S. License for the vehicle being operated
- has a clean driving record
- is experienced in driving the type of vehicle being used (SUV, van, etc.)
- is comfortable driving the necessary distance in the type of vehicle being operated
- feels comfortable driving in the current weather (account for rain and snow)
- is not overtired (please take into account whether or not the driver will be properly rested at the time of travel. Consider the strain of the activity from which you are traveling and the amount of sleep)
- limit the range of driving trips to locations within 4 hours
- ensure that there are enough valid drivers before getting in a car
- avoid round trips within a 24-hour period
- avoid driving through the night, particularly if the students will be tired from the activity that caused you to travel in the first place
- ensure that the cars have the appropriate number of passengers and are not over the capacity they are designed to carry
- do a vehicle inspection prior to driving the vehicle (check lights, horn, tire pressure and condition, windshield wipers, fuel level).
- have experience driving the type of vehicle being used. Note that 15- passenger vans should not be used.
- be well-rested. When taking longer trips, multiple designated drivers should take shifts such as rotating drivers every two hours. Departure time and route plans should favor daytime hours; overnight driving should be avoided.
- not conduct multiple tasks while driving (e.g. use mobile phones or engage in other actions that distract them from driving). As a reminder, nearly all states prohibit text messaging for drivers, and a number of states also prohibit the use of a hand-held phone. Some states prohibit the use of any cell phone by younger drivers. You are responsible for knowing and following the laws of every state in which you will be driving.
- not drive if impaired in any way, whether through fatigue, medication, drugs, or alcohol.
- ensure that all passengers are wearing seat belts.
- have a valid driver’s license.
- obey all traffic laws and in particular posted speed limits.
How many drivers?
Drivers should only drive for 2-hour shifts at a time. Depending on the distance being traveled, there should be enough valid drivers that no driver is driving more than a 2-hour shift.
The personal owner of the vehicle and the driver can both be held financially liable for damages in situations that the insurance available to both are not adequate to cover claims being pursued. The University does not provide automobile insurance for students using personal vehicles for student organization business.
If an incident or accident occurs, the owner of the vehicle would be required to use personal automobile insurance to cover the incident. If the owner of the vehicle does not have adequate limits of insurance, a claim could be made against the individual operating the vehicle.
Students using their own vehicles, family vehicles, or vehicles of friends should be aware of this prior to agreeing to drive for a student activity. Student organizations that are uncomfortable with this personal responsibility are encouraged to rent a car of van through preferred vendors.
As a benefit to registered student organizations, the University has negotiated rates and certain levels of insurance coverage with Enterprise/National that are available to student organizations. Additional information can be found here.
Any vehicle used to transport students should be in good working order having been properly and professionally maintained. Individuals choosing to drive personal vehicles for student organization trips should be aware that they are exposed to greater personal liability.
Great care should be taken when driving conditions are poor. It is best to suspend travel until conditions improve. Students concerned with a late return to campus and potential for missed academic requirements should contact their House/Yard Deans to make appropriate arrangements. Student safety is paramount.
Securing adequate resources to travel safely is essential. Travel plans and funding must align and when they do not, the scope of the travel activity must be scaled back accordingly. The best way to ensure that you can support your group’s safe travel is planning in advance.
- Set a budget for the year including the most travel possible
- Book travel early to control costs
- Always plan for the most travel your organization may require to make sure you have the necessary resources to afford your activities. It is always better to have extra money in your account, than to run out of funds for travel and cancel trips or travel unsafely.
Sources of funding
- Member contributions
- Student Organization Fundraising – the DSO is a resource to student organizations to develop financial support from donors
When working to balance academic and personal commitments with off-campus activities, it is important to weigh priorities and plan ahead. Harvard College is committed to the priority of academic commitments. Travel should be planned in such a way that students can meet academic expectations without compromising safety. Students are encouraged to:
- Plan trips well in advance for travel to avoid conflicts when possible
- Approach faculty early in the term to discuss their extracurricular activities and determine whether any accommodation can be made. Faculty members are not expected to make such accommodations, and students should adjust their plans if their requests are not granted
- Take responsibility for choices and accept the consequences of those choices without compromising safety
- Contact House/Yard Deans and student organization advisers to discuss academic and travel commitments well in advance of travel
- Contact House/Yard Deans when emergency circumstances (weather, travel delays, etc.) prevent a safe and timely return to campus