University Vehicle

The safety of Northwestern students, faculty, staff, and the public is a central concern of Northwestern University. The policies governing the use of University vehicles by students, faculty, and staff are designed to support safe prudent use of vehicles.

Requests for exceptions to any of the following rules must be made through the group's designated advisor and then the Office of Risk Management.

List of Approved Drivers

Defensive Driving Course

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Approved Drivers

Northwestern University adheres to vehicle rental industry driver's licenses standard practices

International Renters (Renting in the US or Canada):

  • License must be issued from the Country of Residence.
  • All drivers must have a valid non-expired driving license and photographic identification to be produced at the time of rental.
  • Two part license holders must produce both parts.
  • International Drivers Permit required if the license is not in English

If the driver's license is in a language other than English, but the characters are in English (i.e.alphabet is an extended Latin-based alphabet like German, Spanish, etc.), an International Driver's Permit is recommended but not required.

Note: An International Driver's Permit is a translation of the individual's home country driver's license and is not an indication of the status, restrictions or type of license the individual holds.

If the driver's license is in a language other than English and the characters are not in the English language (i.e. Russian, Chinese, etc.) an International Driver's Permit is required.

Note: Customers are not allowed to rent a vehicle with only an International Driver's Permit

  • Employees - University vehicles may be driven by any licensed driver 18 years and older (operator's license recognized by the State of Illinois for the class of vehicle and the responsibility assigned) who is authorized to drive by the Department Head. In order to drive, employee drivers must have a driving record free of any two moving violations in the past year, or one moving violation and one accident, or two accidents, or any single alcohol-related stop.
  • Students - Only students who have been approved by the Office of Risk Management are allowed to drive University vehicles or rented vehicles for University activities. See Certified Drivers for a list. In order to drive, the student must successfully complete the University's Defensive Driving Course and certify that his/her driving record is free of any two moving violations in the past year, or one moving violation and one accident, or two accidents, or any single alcohol related stop.

    Northwestern University students and student groups are encouraged to use University-owned vehicles for University-related activities. Any individual who drives his or her personal vehicle to an activity assumes all responsibility for the safety of himself/herself as well as any passengers. The University bears no liability for student use of personal vehicles.

Student-driver Approval Process

Students must have two years of driving experience. Students are required to provide a copy of their current operator's license. The Student's license must be one recognized by the State of Illinois.

Students must successfully complete the University's Defensive Driving Course. Student drivers involved in an at fault accident or ticketed for a moving violation in a University vehicle will lose their approved driver status for one calendar year from the date of accident or ticket. Student drivers suspended from driving University vehicles must repeat the approval process.

Driver Responsibilities

Those driving University vehicles:

  • Must be in possession of a valid drivers license whenever driving a University vehicle. Also, driver must report any change in status of their driving record immediately to the Office of Risk Management.
  • Shall be alcohol and drug free. This includes prescription and non-prescription drugs that may impair a driver's judgment or other faculties.
  • Are responsible to ensure that the vehicle is used only for University business. Drivers shall not pick up or transport family members, hitchhikers, friends, or any other person not on official University business.
  • Are responsible for inspecting the vehicle prior to leaving the place where the vehicle is rented. Once the driver leaves the rental facility with the vehicle, any damages found are the responsibility of the renting party.
  • Shall not operate a vehicle that the driver suspects is not operating properly. The driver shall park the vehicle and call NU Motor Pool (847-491-3560) to make appropriate arrangements so that the vehicle can be operated safely.
  • Must only transport the number of persons for which there are seatbelts in the vehicle. All persons must wear their seatbelts.
  • Must observe all traffic regulations. Drivers are personally responsible for any traffic citations (tickets) that may be issued as a result of operating a University vehicle.
  • Must not drive when driving conditions are hazardous (this includes but is not limited to fog, heavy rain, snow or ice conditions).
  • Are responsible for the security and safety of the vehicle until it is returned to the designated location at the University.
  • May not drive more than four hours in a day and no more than two consecutive hours. All trips over two hours require at least two approved drivers.
  • Shall not drive between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. without permission from the Office of Risk Management.
  • Must report all accidents to the Office of Risk Management (847-491-4334) within 24 hours. Any accidents that result in any personal injury or any vehicles requiring towing must be called in to the Office of Risk Management immediately. Accidents not completely reported to the Office of Risk Management will result in $1,000.00 deductible applied and will increase by $500.00 every day after the first 24 hours the accident is not reported.

Operational Rules

  • No vehicle seating more than a driver and seven passengers will be used for University business unless approved by the Office of Risk Management. The use of 15 passenger vans is strictly prohibited.
  • Vehicle usage for extra-curricular activities shall not cause students to miss class time.
  • Vehicles shall not be operated out of a 150-mile radius during the week. On the weekends, the operating radius is extended to 300 miles with an overnight stay.
  • University vehicles are to be used only for University business.
  • No vehicle may be driven more than ten hours in a day without permission from the Office of Risk Management.
  • All vehicle occupants must wear their seat belts at all times.
  • Adequate vehicle security shall be exercised at all times and locations.
  • The use of motorcycles is prohibitted.

Loss of Driving Privilege

Noncompliance with this policy will result in loss of University driving privilege.

Students involved in accidents while not conducting University business and not en route to the specific University function will lose vehicle privileges for one year and will have no insurance coverage for the accident.

Students lose University driving privileges if:

  • They are involved in an at-fault accident or ticketed for a moving violation in a University Vehicle.
  • Their driving record shows:
    • Two moving violations from the past year
    • One moving violation and one accident
    • Two accidents
    • Any single alcohol-related stop


All accidents shall be reported to the Office of Risk Management (847-491-4334) within 24 hours of the accident. Drivers that fail to contact the Office of Risk Management within 24 hours will lose their driving privilege and the student organization will lose their privilege for one year. A police report must be made in the police jurisdiction the accident happened. In addition, the Northwestern University Accident Report Form must be filled out and delivered to the Office of Risk Management.

Vehicle accident deductible is a minimum of $500.00; the deductible is to be paid by the sponsoring organization. Accidents reported 24 hours after the occurrence will result in a $1,000.00 deductible and further sanctions as determined by the Office of Risk Management. Insurance coverage is not provided for losses that occur from accidents that do not involve University business.

Commercial Vehicle Rental Policy

Non-University rental vehicles should be used only when it is not possible to use a University-owned vehicle. Rental vehicles should not be used if less expensive transportation is available. Use of rental vehicles shall be limited to University business. Student groups shall arrange commercial rental vehicles through the University Motor Pool.

Drivers should use the University's designated rental agency (National Car Rental). In the event of an accident departments not renting vehicles from National Car Rental or the University Motor Pool will be subject to $1,000.00 deductible plus any administration fees charged. Drivers should rent the vehicles in the University's name with the approved driver as the named driver. Under no conditions should the approved driver allow another person to operate their rental vehicle.

Do not purchase a collision damage waiver (CDW) from the rental agency, except for international rentals. On foreign business rentals (including National Car Rental and Enterprise Rent-A-Car under the Big Ten Agreement), the driver should accept the CDW/LDW and liability insurance in the minimum amount offered by the rental agency. Should an accident occur, the driver must follow the rental agency accident report instructions, in addition to forwarding a copy of the report to the Office of Risk Management.