Some Christian schools and day cares rely on parent volunteer transportation to help enrich students’ lives through field trips, sports events, and after-school activities. But volunteer drivers using personal vehicles to transport small groups of students expose your school to numerous liability risks.
A well-designed transportation and supervision plan demonstrates your school’s commitment to safety, builds trust, and protects your students on the move. These steps will help you diminish the risks to improve safety and reduce liability.
Require a volunteer driver form.
This form states the volunteer’s responsibilities and insurance requirements and provides your school with the volunteer’s auto insurance details. Make it clear to drivers that their insurance is likely to be primary in most cases. Drivers should be 21 years of age—prohibit teen drivers from transporting minors.
Provide contact info.
Ask the trip organizer to create a master phone list that includes each driver, the group leader, teacher, or a school principal or administrator. Supply all adults involved in the trip with this list.
Consider non-owned vehicle insurance.
This coverage offers financial protection for the school if it were to be named in a lawsuit involving the personal vehicle of a volunteer or a vehicle rented on behalf of the school.
Discourage caravan travel.
It’s a safety risk to have all drivers ‘follow the leader.’ Supply each driver with the destination address and printed directions, even if the driver has GPS navigation.
Prohibit distracted driving.
Your policy should make clear that parent volunteers using the phone to text or talk (including hands-free options) while driving is strictly prohibited. It’s more than a safety issue: drivers can set a good example to the youth in their vehicle that they take the issue seriously. If there is not another adult in the vehicle, instruct drivers to pull off the road when it is safe to do so before using their phone.
Ensure age-appropriate car seats and seat belts.
Transport only as many children as a vehicle can safely accommodate. Pass on vehicles that do not allow for a properly installed safety seat or come equipped with lap/shoulder-style seat belts.
Proper supervision is key to a child’s safety. Good supervision not only helps deter abuse but helps avoid false allegations of abuse. Your school’s procedures need to be explicit: No adult volunteer should be alone with a child or youth. This includes in a vehicle, at a camp, on a mission trip, or during an overnight shut-in.
NOTE: The two-adult rule is preferred for children 5 years and younger. In addition to these rules, your state may regulate children-to-adult ratios.
Posted 2019. Updated 2023.
The information provided in this article is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.
Thank you for your interest in Brotherhood Mutual. We appreciate the opportunity to provide your church or other ministry with an insurance quote and will reply to your request as soon as possible.
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