Approved Drivers and Safe Driver Program

The safety of Northwestern students, faculty, staff, and the public is a central concern of Northwestern University. In order to ensure the safety of our community, Northwestern has developed the following policies for eligibility to drive on University-related business.

Requests for exceptions to any of the following guidelines should be presented to Leland Roth (

Approved Drivers

All University drivers are required to have a valid driver's license and photographic ID in order to drive or rent a vehicle on behalf of the University.

For faculty, staff or students carrying a valid international license, the following applies in order to be able to rent a vehicle from the Motor Pool or a rental agency:

  • License must be issued from the individual's country of residence.
  • Two part license holders must produce both parts.
  • An International Drivers Permit may be required if the license is not in English.

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. Individuals are not allowed to rent a vehicle with only an International Driver's Permit.


University-owned 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 combination of two moving violations or accidents in the past year. Employees with a single alcohol-related stop shall not drive University vehicles.

It is strongly encouraged that employees who are required to drive as a core function of their job have a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) processed prior to employment in order to ensure a safe driving history. A Driver's License Verification and Vehicle Use Form can be found here. Please submit the form to in order to have the MVR processed.


Northwestern University students and student groups are encouraged to use University-owned vehicles for University-related activities. Any student 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.

Only students who have been approved by the Office of Risk Management are allowed to drive University vehicles or rented vehicles for University activities. A list of current approved drivers is here.

In order to be an approved driver, a student must:

  • Have two years of driving experience and maintain a valid driver's license recognized by the State of IL
  • Complete the University's Defensive Driving Course
  • Have a driving record free of any combination of two moving violations or accidents in the past year
  • Have a driving record free of any single alcohol-related stop.

Approval Process

To become an approved driver, make an appointment to take the Defensive Driving Course as outlined here. When you take the course, you will need to present a copy of your current driver's license and sign the Driver's License Verification and Vehicle Use Form. A copy of your MVR will be run and if you meet the criteria above, you will be presented with a certificate of approved driver status.

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.

Safe Driver Program

All University drivers agree to follow the provisions of the Safe Driver Program.

For additional information, please contact Brian Gephart, Program and Project Coordinator, at 847.491.3253 or