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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

SM 445-2-H CHAPTER 16

Motor Vehicle Safety

Instruction:  This chapter is revised to include information on the maximum number of hours allowed to be driven in a given 16-hour workday; to incorporate requirements for new hires and medical clearances; and to add Appendix F, New Vehicle Safety Organization Checklist.  This chapter also incorporates the new Executive Order banning text messaging while operating a motor vehicle for Government purposes.

1.  Purpose.  To specify the minimum Occupational Safety and Health Program (Program) requirements for the safe operation of motor vehicles by employees and volunteers of the Department of the Interior (Department or DOI) and the U.S Geological Survey (Bureau or USGS) in the performance of official Government duties.

A.  This chapter covers any USGS employee or volunteer who operates a motor vehicle in the performance of official duties. 

B.  Motor vehicles include all vehicles owned or leased by the USGS; privately owned vehicles; and other vehicles such as trucks, drilling rigs, forklifts, all-terrain vehicles, and snowmobiles, used in the performance of official Government duties.

2.  Authorities.

A.  41 CFR 102.34, Motor Vehicle Management.

B.  40 U.S. Code Section, Section 606, Regulations Related to Operation (Motor Vehicle).

C.  49 CFR Part 383, Commercial Driver’s License Standards; Requirements and Penalties.

D.  Executive Order, October 1, 2009, Federal Leadership on Reducing Text Messaging While Driving.

3.  References/Resources.

A.  Section 211(j) of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949 as amended [68 Stat. 1128].

B.  U.S. Office of Personnel Management Operating Manual for Qualification Standards for General Schedule Positions, General Policies and Instructions, Section E.9.(f) Motor Vehicle Standards.

C.  Survey Manual (SM) 409.1, Personal Property - Vehicle Management.

D.  SM 408-2-H, Property Management Handbook, Chapter 6, Motor Vehicles.

E.  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

F.  Motor Vehicle Safety (OSHA).

G.  Traffic Safety Digest.

H.  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Regional Offices.

I.  Department Of Transportation, Motor Carrier requirements.

3.  Requirements.  

A.  USGS employees and volunteers who regularly operate a Government or privately owned motor vehicle while on official Government business must:

(1)  Possess valid State/international licenses for the class of vehicle being operated, certifying license validity in writing annually, and maintain their Federal Motor Carrier Medical Permit, as applicable.  Employees and volunteers must notify their supervisors if their drivers’ licenses are suspended, restricted, revoked, canceled, or if they have been otherwise disqualified from holding licenses, e.g., unable to pass medical screening.  Appendix A, Annual Motor Vehicle Operator’s Certification Form, may be used for this purpose.

(2)  Have supervisor’s approval to operate the vehicle.  (The supervisor must ensure that the employee or volunteer has the ability to safely operate the vehicle in the operational environment assigned.)

(3)  Be at least 18 years old to operate a motor vehicle and be at least 21 years old to hold a Commercial Motor Carrier Drivers Permit.

(4)  Have their driving records validated by the State (international-licensed drivers exempted) and/or National Driver Register upon employment and whenever management deems it advisable to review.  This responsibility is delegated to local organizational managers and supervisors and may be re-delegated as deemed appropriate.

(5)  Be licensed in accordance with regulations administered by the Federal Highway Administration and the States when transporting children.

(6)  Be required to pass Federal Motor Carrier Medical Screening.

(7)  Meet conditions 3.A(1), 3.A(2), and 3.A(3) in this chapter, if the employee or volunteer is an infrequent operator of sedans or other light vehicles.  Condition 3.A(4) is also recommended, but at the Bureau’s option.

B.  In addition to the requirements in 3.A above, employees or volunteers who operate commercial motor vehicles (having a GVW rating of more than 26,000 pounds or towing a vehicle with a GVW rating of 10,000 pound or more), hauling hazardous material requiring the vehicle to be placarded, or operating a vehicle designed to transport 16 or more people, including the driver, must:

(1)  Possess only one State commercial driver’s license.

(2)  Possess a valid medical examiner’s certificate, required by Federal Motor Carrier License requirements.

(3)  Be at least 21 years old.

(4)  Notify his/her supervisor if his/her driver’s license is suspended, revoked, restricted, canceled, or he/she has been disqualified from holding a State/international license.

C.  Require the driver and all passengers to use the provided safety belts at all times when the motor vehicle is in motion, on or off the highway.

(1)  All vehicle occupants must wear seat belts while the vehicle is in motion for general and commercial vehicles, and appropriate personal protective equipment, such as helmets and goggles, when operating vehicles such as off highway vehicles (OHVs) or snowmobiles.

D.  Employees and volunteers must not operate 3-wheeled OHVs.

E.  During the performance of official Government business, employees and volunteers must not operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs nor while sick or suffering from excessive fatigue or emotional stress.

F.  Employees and volunteers must observe all Federal, State, and local traffic regulations.

G.  Employees and volunteers must not exceed 10 hours of driving time (behind the wheel) during a 16-hour duty period.  This 10-hour period includes rest and meal breaks.  USGS management and employees and volunteers may place further limitations on the above hours of duty and/or driving time due to safety factors, e.g., fatigue, weather, distance, and illness.

H.  Electronic equipment (cellular phone, blackberry, personal digital assistant, or pager)use in USGS vehicles (owned, leased, or rented) must be restricted as follows:

(1)  The driver of a USGS vehicle or a privately owned vehicle, while on official Government business, must not use personal or Government-supplied electronic equipment, inclusive of hands-free devices, while the vehicle is in motion.  A passenger may use an electronic device while the vehicle is in motion as long as its use does not interfere with the driver’s safe operation of the vehicle.

(2)  When driving alone, incoming calls must be directed to voice mail or pager for answering until the vehicle can be safely pulled to the side of the road.

(3)  Text messaging is prohibited when driving USGS vehicles or privately owned vehicles while on official Government business.

Exception.  Certain employees and volunteers, devices, or vehicles that are engaged in or used for protective, law enforcement, or national security responsibilities; or on the basis of other emergency conditions, may be exempted from these requirements, in whole or in part.

I.  Provide initial and refresher training to vehicle operators no less than once every 3 years.  Also inform them of the potential penalties (see 49 CFR 383 and 391) for failure to operate motor vehicles in a safe and lawful manner.

(1)  As a minimum, initial and refresher defensive driving training must include concepts of defensive driving; physical and mental conditions that affect driving; effects of drugs and alcohol on the driver, including defense against the impaired driver; adjusting to a variety of driving conditions and environments; techniques for backing safely; and the safety risks associated with the use of electronic equipment, e.g., text messaging, while driving. Training must be conducted no less than once every 3 years.  The National Safety Council online training, hosted through the DOI Learning Management System, meets the intent of this training.  Alternative training methods must be coordinated through the Regional Safety Manager and approved by the Bureau Safety Manager prior to instruction.

(2)  As a minimum, initial and refresher specialized vehicle training must include a review of the operator manual and successful completion of supervised “hands-on” exercises.  In lieu of training, supervisors may authorize operation of specialized vehicles if the employee or volunteer has demonstrated proficiency in operating the vehicle through job or personal experience and is licensed to operate.

(3)  Employees and volunteers who operate vehicles that require specialized skills or knowledge, i.e., forklifts, drill rigs, 4x4 OHVs, snowmobiles, SnowCats, vehicles with greater than 1-ton capacity, or vehicles towing watercraft, snowmobiles, or other large equipment, must obtain supervisory authorization prior to vehicle operation.

J.  Employees and volunteers must meet the following minimum requirements in order to operate an OHV:

(1)  Complete a Formal Risk Assessment.  Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that a formal risk assessment has been prepared and approved for operation of an OHV (see Appendix B, Levels of Risk and Use of the Risk Decision Authority Matrix).

(2)  Training.  Each OHV operator must complete an operator training course developed by a manufacturer or other appropriate source, and taught by an individual who has successfully completed an OHV instructor course in order to qualify for OHV authorization.  Courses must be specific to each vehicle class, to include field instruction, and be documented.  Refresher training, with check ride, is required every 3 years, at a minimum.  Refresher training is strongly encouraged for infrequent operators (less than 24 annual ride hours) and when new equipment is placed in service.  Training is available through USGS/Federal agency employees who have completed an OHV instructor course or through private vendors.

(3)  Appropriate Fieldwork Procedures.  All OHV operators must follow USGS fieldwork procedures (refer to USGS Safety and Environmental Health Field Manual 445-3-H, Topic 4.6).  At a minimum, OHV operators must:

(a)  Use a “buddy system” for all fieldwork, when required by a Field Risk Assessment.

(b)  Use a check-out/check-in system.

(c)  Wear safe field attire that includes over-the-ankle protective footwear, long trousers, long-sleeved shirt/jacket, and climate-appropriate outerwear, gloves, and head covering.

(4)  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

(a)  All authorized OHV operators must wear PPE to protect the eyes, face, head, and extremities.  All helmets must be Department of Transportation SNELL or American National Standards Institute standard approved.  Helmets must be fastened.  Examples of PPE include:

(i)  OHVs.  PPE includes an approved helmet with a face shield or impact-resistant goggles, full-fingered gloves, long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, and over-the-ankle protective boots.

(ii)  Off Road Motorcycle.  PPE includes an approved helmet with a face shield or impact-resistant goggles, full-fingered gloves, long-sleeved shirt, long trousers, over-the-ankle leather boots, kneepads, shin pads, and elbow pads.

(iii)  Safety Managers.  PPE includes an approved helmet with a face shield or impact-resistant goggles, safety sunglasses, facemask, gloves, snowsuit, and snowmobile boots.

(b)  Along with the supervisor, a safety professional must also approve the purchase of USGS-supplied PPE (refer to Chapter 26.5.F of this Handbook).

(c)  Some types of goggles which are impact resistant do not allow for the exchange or the movement of air, thus, causing the lens to steam-up.  The current motor vehicle laws permit the use of face shields and/or other eye protection, e.g., glasses or sun-glasses.

(d)  OHVs exhaust systems come in contact with brush, and rocks, and are constantly being damaged.  All OHVs must be purchased and maintained with an approved flame-arresting exhaust system at all times.

(e)  OHVs can be purchased with roll-over protection and seat belts.  When these options are available they must be incorporated into the vehicle.

(f)  Items carried on OHVs, e.g., scientific equipment, rifles, and shot guns, must be attached or affixed to the OHV in a manner which precludes the items from becoming entangled in the environment in which the OHV is operated.  All rifles and guns must be unloaded when transported on an OHV.

(5)  Field Risk Assessment.

(a)  A field risk assessment must be documented in the event of any significant change in weather, terrain, or circumstance.  Significant changes include:

(i)  Weather:  Rain, snow, hail, ice storm, and electrical storm.

(ii)  Terrain:  Mudslide, rockslide, washout, high water, avalanche, and unfamiliar terrain.

(iii)  Circumstance:  New or unfamiliar equipment, buddy unavailable.

(b)  Preventive maintenance checks and services checklist for OHVs and snowmobiles must be signed by the supervisor and the employee or volunteer before commencing operation of any OHV.  These checklists may be found in Appendix C, Off-Road Vehicles Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services, and Appendix D, Snowmobile Preventative Maintenance Checks and Services, respectively.

(c)  If a buddy is unavailable, the supervisor can authorize a solo OHV operation after preparing a specific ride plan.  The plan would supplement the field risk assessment with an analysis of the specific environmental situation including:

(i)  Weather.

(ii)  Terrain.

(iii)  Communications capabilities.

(iv)  Criticality of the work task and alternatives to accomplish the work.

(d)  At a minimum, the ride plan must address:

(i)  More frequent communications.

(ii)  A detailed itinerary.

(iii)  A specific route map.

(e)  A Risk Management Worksheet can be used to document the analysis.  The decision document must be signed by the supervisor and kept on file.  Employees and volunteers have the responsibility to follow safe operating procedures and have the right to decline to operate any equipment under circumstances they deem unsafe.

K.  Investigate and analyze vehicle accidents related to field operations and take appropriate action to minimize them.

L.  All accidents involving a motor vehicle must be reported as required in Chapter 7 of this Handbook.

M.  Include appropriate safety features in purchase orders and lease agreements for non-General Services Administration vehicles.

N.  Inspect motor vehicles in order to maintain them in safe, operable conditions.  At a minimum, safety inspections must consist of the items set forth in Appendix E, Motor Vehicle Safety Inspection Checklist.  Deficiencies that impair safety of operations must be corrected before returning the vehicle to an operational status.  Organizations can satisfy the inspection requirement through participation in an established annual State inspection program.

O.  All field vehicles used to transport cargo must be equipped with a properly designed safety screen installed between the passenger compartment and cargo area and a securely mounted fire extinguisher easily accessible from inside the vehicle.

4.  Responsibilities.

A.  Bureau Safety Manager.  The Bureau Safety Manager must:

(1)  Evaluate headquarters and regional organizations to assess the effectiveness and degree of the motor vehicle safety program administration and implementation, every 3 years at a minimum.  Evaluations must consider employee and volunteer training, vehicle inspections and maintenance, and licensing requirements, at a minimum.  Bureau evaluation reports/findings must be provided to the Regional Director/Regional Executives, through the Chief, Office of Regional Services/Regional Safety Manager.

(2)  Approve all exceptions to established USGS policy, training, and instruction.

B.  Regional Safety Managers.  Regional Safety Managers must:

(1)  Coordinate the scheduling/conduct of periodic evaluations of regional organizations to determine the effectiveness and degree of motor vehicle safety program administration and implementation.  Evaluations must consider the overall program, i.e., employee and volunteer training, vehicle maintenance, inspections, and licensing requirements.

(2)  Provide assistance to Regional Safety Officers and Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators (CDSPCs) in determining training needs and implementing motor vehicle safety program requirements.

(3)  Review regional organizational requests for exceptions to established USGS policy, training, and instruction and coordinate with the Bureau Safety Manager for approval.

C.  Regional Area Safety Officers.  Regional Area Safety Officers must:

(1)  Coordinate the scheduling/conduct of periodic evaluations of regional organizations to determine the effectiveness and degree of motor vehicle safety program administration and implementation.  Evaluations must consider the overall program, i.e., employee and volunteer training, vehicle maintenance, inspections, and licensing requirements.

(2)  Oversee and coordinate assistance to field organizational CDSPCs in determining training needs for the implementation of motor vehicle safety program requirements.

(3)  Evaluate motor vehicle training to determine adequacy, cost effectiveness, and appropriateness in meeting regional science program needs.

(4)  Review regional science program organizational requests for exceptions to established USGS policy, training, and instruction and coordinate approval with the Regional Manager for Bureau Safety Manager.

D.  Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators.  Collateral Duty Safety Program Coordinators must:

(1)  Establish programs to strengthen employee, volunteer, and supervisor awareness of motor vehicle program requirements as detailed within this chapter.

(2)  Establish inspection programs for all organizational vehicles at least annually or more often as recommended by the manufacturer.

(3)  Monitor identified motor vehicle deficiencies and supervisory corrective actions until abated.

(4)  Conduct periodic evaluations of the organizational motor vehicle program to determine the effectiveness and degree of motor vehicle safety program administration and implementation.  Evaluations must consider the overall program, i.e., employee and volunteer training, vehicle maintenance, inspections, and licensing requirements.

(5)  Assist supervisors in the administration of the organizational motor vehicle program, inclusive of appropriate training.  The National Safety Council’s online training, hosted through the DOI Learning Management System, meets the intent of this training.  Alternative training methods must be coordinated through the Regional Safety Manager and approved by the Bureau Safety Manager prior to instruction.

(6)  Coordinate training requests that deviate from established course requirements with the appropriate Regional Safety Officer and/or Regional Safety Manager, as applicable, for approval by the Bureau Safety Manager.

E.  Managers and Supervisors.  Managers and Supervisors must:

(1)  Establish and implement a local level motor vehicle safety program for employees and volunteers who operate motor and specialized vehicles.

(2)  Ensure that employees and volunteers who operate a motor vehicle have valid State drivers’ licenses for the class vehicle to be operated.

(3)  Maintain and update Motor Vehicle Operator’s Certification Forms and current medical screening and documents/records in accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 Privacy Act requirements for all employees and volunteers, annually.

(4)  Coordinate initial and refresher defensive driving training no less than once every 3 years for employees and volunteers who operate a motor vehicle in the performance of official duties.  The National Safety Council’s online training, hosted through the DOI Learning Management System, meets the intent of this training.  Supervisors may require additional or more frequent training if warranted by an employee’s or volunteer’s driving record.

(5)  Coordinate specialized motor vehicle training for each specific type of vehicle operated, such as an operator course developed by the vehicle manufacturer or another appropriate source, to facilitate an employee’s or volunteer’s participation and knowledge of operating and manufacturer recommendations for maximum speed and safety procedures.

(6)  Coordinate OHV training to ensure that an employee or volunteer successfully completes an OHV course developed by a manufacturer or other appropriate source, or by an individual who has successfully completed such a course.

(7)  Establish an inspection and maintenance program for all vehicles on a recurring basis with documentation maintained for the life of the vehicle.  Vehicles with defects or deficiencies affecting occupant safety must be taken out of service until repaired. Appendix E and Appendix F, New Vehicle Safety Organization Plan, may be used for this purpose.

F.  Employees and Volunteers.  Employees and volunteers must:

(1)  Notify their supervisors, using the Annual Motor Vehicle Operator’s Certification, Appendix A of this chapter, if their drivers’ licenses have been suspended, revoked, restricted, and canceled, or if they have been convicted of any moving traffic violation that affects their driving status.

(2)  To the maximum extent possible, avoid situations resulting in backing maneuvers, and that when backing maneuvers are necessary, conduct a walk around of the vehicle to identify obstacles that may be hidden from view when seated behind the steering wheel. When passengers or other employees or volunteers are present, employ them as spotters when backing the vehicle.

(3)  When weather conditions warrant, ensure the use of windshield wipers and headlights.

(4)  Perform and document routine checks of vehicle safety components, i.e., tires, windshield wipers, headlights, taillights, turn signals, mirrors, etc.

(5)  Secure all weights, compressed gas cylinders, and other heavy or large items in the vehicle.   

(6)  Transport gasoline and other hazardous materials in approved containers and secure to prevent movement.

(7)  Immediately report all vehicle defects to the responsible supervisor.

(8)  Complete applicable initial and defensive driving training as appropriate for the vehicle type they operate.

(9)  If operating a vehicle under a commercial license, maintain official Motor Carrier Lodge Book of hours, rest, and out-of-service times as required by the DOT.

G.  Contracting Officer’s Technical Representatives.  Contracting Officer’s Technical Representatives must ensure contractor compliance with applicable requirements in this chapter when the USGS arranges (via procurement contracts, grants, cooperative agreements, etc.) to have work performed by a contractor and subcontractor that involves motor vehicle operation, including the ban on text messaging while operating a vehicle in the performance of any work for or on behalf of the Government.


/s/ Karen D. Baker                                                                                 11/09/09      
________________________________                                            _____________
Karen D. Baker                                                                                           Date
Associate Director for Administrative Policy and Services

Appendix A
Appendix B
Appendix C
Appendix D
Appendix E
Appendix F


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