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Avoid liability lawsuits by keeping volunteer driver records

Simple, quick ways to set up and maintain your volunteer driver files

It takes as little as 30 minutes to set up a simple vehicle recordkeeping system for volunteer drivers. This investment in time could significantly reduce your litigation liability in the event of an accident.

How to set up your records

The easiest way? Set up two file systems: one for volunteers and the other for trips.

Each volunteer should have a personnel file in which you keep:

  • Screening records including a completed Volunteer Driver Form.
  • Statement of medical condition.
  • Problem reports and/or disciplinary measures.
  • Signed release and consent forms.
  • Copy of the volunteer's Vehicle Registration Form (more information below).
  • Copy of driver's license.
  • Record of the volunteer's reviews and training.

Create a file for each off-campus trip. In each file, keep:

  • Trip log, listing the date and purpose of the trip and a list of everyone who goes on the trip, including the director, adult sponsors or helpers, and participants.
  • Names of drivers and a Vehicle Inspection Report for each vehicle used.
  • Permission slips for each participant (especially if participants are children).
  • Event log, reporting any unusual events that occurred on the trip.

Forms you need to keep

Volunteer Driver Form — When screening your drivers, use a Volunteer Driver Form to review driver qualifications. This form should provide personal and licensing information, as well as a record of moving violations and accidents. Keep the form in the volunteer's personnel file.

Vehicle Registration Form — Use a Vehicle Registration Form to keep a record of the vehicles your volunteers use for church or ministry business. It should provide vehicle details, such as the make, model and license number, and the owner's insurance information. This form should be kept in the volunteer's personnel file.

Vehicle Inspection Report — The Vehicle Inspection Report provides evidence that vehicles used on a trip were inspected for appropriateness and safety. They should be used for activities where groups of people are transported off campus and should be completed prior to leaving the parking lot. Completed reports should be kept in the trip file.

Permission Slips. All activities involving children should require a permission slip signed by parents. The permission slip should document the date, location and purpose of each specific activity and should be kept in the trip file.

Volunteer reviews and training . It's a good idea to offer periodic training and reviews of all volunteer drivers. In each volunteer's personnel file, keep a record of his or her participation in training events and document reviews.

Maintaining records

All records need periodic review. The chart below offers some suggestions on updating records:

Review Frequency
Check volunteers' motor vehicle records (MVR) Once a year
Update driver status:
Current license, special certificates, vehicle registration, etc.
Once a year
Obtain drivers' statement of medical condition Once a year
Administer on-the-road driving tests No less than every two years
Administer written driver safety tests No less than every two years
Review accident and incident reports Periodically
Review complaint log Periodically

Insuring against risk
Even in the most thought-out program, accidents can happen. Along with establishing clear volunteer driver policies, regularly review your ministry's property and casualty insurance coverages. To help protect against physical damages and legal liability associated with auto accidents, your policy should cover compensation costs the church might be required to pay to an injured person, along with any associated property damage.

If you have any questions regarding your insurance policy or the risks your church might be facing, call the GuideStone Property and Casualty Program at 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) or visit us online.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as legal advice. Readers should use this article as a tool, along with best judgment and legal advice to determine appropriate policies regarding the use of volunteer drivers and their vehicles.