Operate a Vehicle

Learn about operating a University-owned vehicle. 


A University vehicle must be operated in a safe and legal manner, kept in a state of good repair, and comply with all applicable local, state, and federal regulations at all times.

Departments are responsible for following the University's policy on operating a vehicle and for maintenance of the vehicle.


University vehicles may only be used in the fulfillment of University business unless prior authorization has been granted by the department head or by Risk Management. Only those employees, students, and affiliates specifically authorized by the department head and/or Risk Management are allowed to operate University vehicles.

The driver of any vehicle has ultimate responsibility for verifying that a vehicle is properly registered and permitted for legal operation. The driver of any vehicle also has ultimate responsibility for the safety and well-being of any passengers and the public in general.

A driver has the right to refuse embarking on any travel if, in his/her opinion, the vehicle or general conditions are unsafe and constitute a hazard to himself/herself, passengers, the general public, or University property, or where operation would otherwise violate the law. If a driver refuses to embark on travel because s/he believes the vehicle is unfit to be operated, s/he must report this up the chain of command to the appropriate supervisor, department head, departmental Vehicle Coordinator, and/or Risk Management.

Only University-approved drivers can operate a vehicle, and the vehicle's insurance card must be kept inside the vehicle at all times. For a replacement insurance card (if lost), fill out a Vehicle Insurance ID Card Request Form.

The University has developed the following policy: visit ​Vehicle Acquisition, Operation, and Disposal Policy for the full text of the policy.


All maintenance is the sole responsibility of the department and should be monitored by the departmental Vehicle Coordinator. Columbia University requires that appropriate care is taken with University vehicles, including routine and preventative maintenance recommended in the manufacturer’s published manual. Risk Management may deny reimbursement for claims deemed to be the direct result of inappropriate maintenance.

Departments must not pay for the maintenance or repair of personal vehicles—even if operated on University business. For details on Columbia University’s policy on this matter, refer to the Travel Expense and Business Expense policies.

The departmental Vehicle Coordinator is responsible for responding to all safety recall notices forwarded by Risk Management for a particular vehicle. After ensuring the appropriate action is taken, the departmental Vehicle Coordinator must provide documentation of this action to Risk Management in a timely manner. Failure to respond to a safety recall notice may result in suspension of vehicle operation privileges.

The University has developed the following policy: visit ​Vehicle Acquisition, Operation, and Disposal Policy for the full text of the policy.

Still have questions?

Contact [email protected].