4. Vehicle use
4.1 Authority to drive vehicles
Any staff member, postgraduate student, authorised undergraduate, or volunteer may drive the University fleet vehicles currently managed at a department level, provided that they have a current appropriate class drivers licence and have received an induction from the vehicle manager. University policies and procedures regarding fleet vehicles, including bookings and key collection will be detailed during the vehicle induction as well as an overview of the particular safety and maintenance features of the vehicles and an assessment of driver competency.
The University gives permission for provisional licenced drivers to use University vehicles under the current insurance provisions. Provisional drivers must display ‘P-plates’ and drive according to current NSW RMS requirements. Drivers with learner permits are not allowed to drive University vehicles.
Use of mobile phones whilst driving is not permitted and can attract a significant fine if caught. Drivers should also be aware that insurers may not accept your claim if you are found to have been demonstrating negligence at the time of an accident.
Driving whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs is not permitted under any circumstance. The University will commence disciplinary action against any person who is found to be driving under the influence of either alcohol or drugs.
4.2 Departmental vehicles
Please see departmental websites for vehicle details and online booking systems: Biological sciences
(Usage costs are 50c/km for members of the Department of Biological Sciences. For other personnel the cost is 0.75/km. Please check funding availability before booking a vehicle)
Each day of use the driver must complete an entry in the vehicle log book to meet the requirements of the Australian Taxation Office.
When using the department accounts, the following example of detail is required:
- if the trip is for a meeting, where the meeting is being held
- if the trip is for a purchase, where the purchase is being made
- if the trip is for teaching, where the vehicle is going and unit code
- if the trip is for assisting MRes or PhD students, note who the student is and where the fieldwork activity is taking place
- if the trip is for a service/ repair, where the repairs are taking place
- if the trip is for pick up/ transport, what is being transported and where to and from
This information can additionally be entered in the online booking calendar (under description) when booking vehicles.
For general suburban driving the 2WD vehicles are encouraged instead of 4WD. While these vehicles can be used for multi day long distance trips, they should only be used for fieldwork on roads & terrain designated for 2WD vehicles. Off road use is not permitted, however the vehicles can be used on graded dirt roads.
While the 4WD vehicles are available for suburban trips, use of these for either boat towing and/or remote location trips is prioritised. Where vehicles are to be used for off road work and vehicle recovery equipment is required, drivers must complete a NSW Government accredited 4WD handling course or demonstrate evidence of prior learning through previous training, employment activities or relevant life histories. Please contact the appropriate fieldwork manager to organise 4WD handling courses. The departments has a variety of vehicle recovery equipment to loan for fieldtrips to remote and off road locations
All drivers have a duty of care to return the vehicles re-fueled & in a clean undamaged state by the due time recorded in the booking system. Any problems encountered must be reported to the vehicle manager immediately.
4.3 Driving alone
Driving alone is generally not recommended for many safety and support reasons. Driver fatigue is a major killer on NSW roads and a having a secondary driver is always preferable. Long-haul driving trips alone must be discussed with the fieldwork manager before approval will be granted. For such trips the fieldwork manager may require a journey plan with a predetermined communication plan for call back. If concerns arise, approval for driving alone trips may be referred to the Head of Department and/ or Health and Safety Coordinator.
Please refer to the Centre for Road Safety for more information about safe driving and fatigue.
4.4 Use of private vehicles
Whilst recognising that use of private vehicles on University business is occasionally required, regular use is strongly discouraged. The vehicle must be registered, insured and road-worthy and driver must hold the appropriate licenses. A copy of the drivers license of the driver plus current certificate of registration must be uploaded to Field Friendly in the Qualifications section before using a private vehicle for University fieldwork.
Please consult with the appropriate fieldwork/ vehicle manager and Department Administration for more information.
4.5 Use of hire vehicles
At times it is necessary to hire vehicles for use in the field. There are several points to be aware of when hiring vehicles:
- The vehicle must be hired through a licensed company.
- Comprehensive insurance (or the local equivalent if hired internationally) MUST be taken out for the hire vehicle. It is the individuals’ responsibility to check that comprehensive insurance is in place.
- The individual must read the rental company’s terms and conditions carefully, especially the conditions of license requirements and where a car can/ cannot be driven (usually available online).
- If after reading the terms and conditions, written permission for vehicle use (e.g. on particular roads) by the hire company are required the individual must organise them themselves.
- All drivers should be listed with the hire car company as AUTHORISED DRIVERS and their licenses checked by the company upon pick up of the vehicle.
- If hiring a 4WD vehicle or a larger, more unfamiliar vehicle, it is recommended the driver see the vehicle manager or relevant fieldwork manager for a safety briefing and potentially a vehicle induction, case and experience dependent.
The hire car checklist reflecting this information can be accessed here.
4.6 Daily checks
It is the responsibility of the inducted drivers and/or fieldtrip team leader to perform a check of the vehicle before the field trip to ensure the vehicle is suitable and equipped for the work and terrain to be encountered. All vehicles undergo regular safety checks, maintenance and service by the vehicle managers, however, during a field excursion, basic daily checks of oil, fuel, tyre pressure, engine temperature, secure equipment and emergency supplies should be performed.
Please communicate any issues with the University vehicles to the vehicle manager as they arise.
University vehicles are rated to 2 tonnes for towing and tow points and trailer light attachment points are demonstrated during the vehicle induction. Tow hooks are located at the front of the vehicle & use of the safety pin in the tow bar tongue socket for rear towing.
Procedures for towing of university aquatic vessels are incorporated into the vessel induction via the Marine Fieldwork Manager.
4.8 General driving advice
- Driver fatigue - Drivers are reminded by the University and a NSW RMS recommendation that driving periods must not exceed two hours before either a change of driver and/or a half an hour rest period occurs incorporating some light activity e.g. walking, tea break. Rest stops must be made on the first onset of fatigue.
- Macquarie University encourages drivers to be aware of the welfare of the fellow passengers. In turn, passengers should express concerns if uncomfortable with the driver’s control. This includes no driving for eight hours after consuming alcohol or fatigue inducing prescription medication. A total of no more than 12 hours per day should be spent travelling by vehicle either as shared driver or passenger. Where there are prior intensive activities to driving, this should be deducted from the driving schedule for the day.
- Poor light driving - Care must be taken when driving at dawn, dusk & night particularly in areas of wildlife activity. If a collision with an animal can’t be avoided, impact must be straight & central to avoid rollover. Encourage use of the front passenger as spotter for any hazards ahead
- Vehicle weight and speed – Drivers need to be aware that greater stopping distances are required particularly when the vehicle is fully laden. Higher road clearance reduces vehicle stability particularly when cornering. Speed reduction & changing down through the gears when approaching curves & corners must be emphasized.
- Blind spots – Drivers need to be aware of blind spots of the vehicle & care with stowage of poles, spades and sharp objects. All drivers are encouraged to take care when parking the vehicles and use a passenger if present to assist with guiding. When driving in thick vegetation, mirrors need to be pulled in and aerials lowered.
- Water crossings –Depth limitation apply for water crossings, no deeper than the centre of the hub of the wheels. Under no circumstances should flooded roads be crossed except under direction of local emergency authorities.
- Equipment – There are first aid kits, torches, night visibility reflector vests, roadside assistance details, vehicle manufacturer’s instructions, jumper leads as well as jack & tyre change tools are provided in every vehicle.
- Tyres – Drivers need to be aware that the semi off road tyres fitted to the 4WD vehicles have reduced road surface contact due to tread patterns and therefore recommended to reduce highway speeds. Attention should be paid to the speed rating letter displayed on the tyre side wall; e.g. N rating means maximum allowable speed for the tyre is no more than 20km/h. Some vehicles are also fitted with satellite & or GSM vehicle trackers where trip speeds are digitally recorded. Drivers should ensure they are capable of changing a tyre in their field vehicle especially when travelling in remote areas where NRMA support may be difficult. Each vehicle model will store tyre changing equipment in different compartments and drivers should ensure they are familiar with their location.
- Tyre changing – Drivers should ensure they are capable of changing a tyre in their field vehicle especially when travelling in remote areas where NRMA support may be difficult. Each vehicle model will store tyre changing equipment in different compartment and drivers should ensure they are familiar with their location. Drivers need to take extreme care when changing tyres on a vehicle, particularly avoid carrying out this procedure on busy roads, highways & freeways. Any passengers not involved with tyre changing should stay well clear of the vehicle, & rather act as spotters for oncoming traffic & not to roam across the road to take photos. Care must be taken to avoid injury, particularly to backs when lifting equipment, or avoiding hot surfaces beneath the car. Tyre changing procedures should follow the information provided in the manufacturer’s vehicle manual as well as details given during the vehicle induction process. NEVER PUT ANY PART OF YOUR BODY UNDER A VEHICLE SUPPORTED BY ONLY A JACK.
- Under the bonnet –Drivers are to refill the washer reservoirs as required with diluted window washer solution. If driving in dusty locations for long periods, remove the air filter & blow off any dust & foreign material as well as hose through the radiator grill to remove blockages. This should be covered in the vehicle induction process but seek professional mechanical advice on how this is done.
- Run out of fuel – Drivers must be aware that for vehicles fitted with aftermarket long range fuel tanks, the fuel gauge is not calibrated to volume present in the fuel tank. Therefore it is recommended safe practice that drivers should refuel all vehicles when the fuel gauge indicates that a half tank has been reached. If down to a quarter tank, refueling must be carried out as soon as possible. Vehicles are fitted with long range fuel tanks which along with fuel gauges are not calibrated to the increased volume, so extra care needs to be taken with calculating remaining fuel for long distance travel.
- Jump start – Drivers have to always check that all lights are switched off when leaving the vehicle. If the battery is flat, follow the directions of the vehicle manufacturer’s manual, e.g. connect jumper leads positive from the good battery to positive of the flat, negative to the engine hook or nearest metallic object in the engine bay. Never negative to negative as the battery could blow up or damage to power circuits can occur.
- Vehicle recovery/off road activity - If the situation arises that a vehicle needs recovering, additional risks will exist. The potential for such a situation should be disclosed to the relevant fieldwork manager during the trip application process as this may affect the approval if the participants do not have the correct level of training or experience to recover a vehicle safely. If such situations are predicted to occur the fieldwork manager may request demonstration of skill or a 4WD vehicle recover course to supplement. Recovery may only proceed in the field if the fieldwork leader assesses the risks on site and determines that controls are appropriate to safely manage the operation with personnel on hand. Should this not be deemed safe, external assistance should be sought immediately.
(Please refer to Macquarie University Policy Central for more information)