Contributed by: Charlie Baker (Diocese of Auckland)

It is essential that when we are providing transport for young people we do it safely and competently.  Creating a safety policy for transport will ensure that this happens. Here are some mandatory requirements for drivers, as well as points to take into consideration when creating your policies.

Safe Practices for Drivers

As soon as a young person enters a vehicle, the driver is responsible for their safety. Mandatory safe practices for drivers include:

  • Drivers adhere to the NZ road code
  • Drivers take full responsibility for their own actions
  • Vehicles have a current warrant and registration
  • Drivers are free from the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • All accidents, near misses, or reckless driving be reported to the leader/co-ordinator immediately
  • Drivers ensure all passengers wear seatbelts

Age & Licensing

Many parishes use the rule that those who drive youth group members or children must be over 20 years old and/or have had their full driver’s license for two years or more. Some others use the rule that only people over 25 years old with a full license are allowed to drive. This often depends on insurance.

Make sure that young drivers have a full license – ask for a copy of their driver’s license.

Parental Permission

It is recommended that you ask parents to sign a permission slip for transport. Where travel is regularly involved in a programme, it may be possible to get one note signed for the year. See an example of a Permission Slip here.

If young people travel in other young people’s cars as passengers, you may need their parent’s/caregivers permission, especially if the passengers are under 16 years of age.

Group Outings

When you are going on a group outing or travelling to a camp, make sure you have considered the following:

  1. Young Drivers: Consider whether you let young people drive themselves. Also whether you let other young people be passengers of those young drivers (if they have the appropriate licenses – see ‘Age & Licensing’ above).
  2. Insurance: Be clear beforehand about who will cover the excess of an insurance policy if there is an accident in a borrowed vehicle on a church outing. Also clarify responsibility for any excess on the policy of under 25s.
  3. Vehicle loading: There can be dangers in overloading a van with gear as well as people. Consideration needs to be given to the driving safety of any vehicle on a long trip or with a lot of gear.

Transport home

Co-operate with parents to ensure that young people are picked up or taken home safely. If anyone leaves a programme/event without prior agreement, let the parent/caregivers know.

Decide on your own policy about adult leaders taking young people home. The area of particular concern is when there is one adult and one child/young person in a car, especially if they are of the opposite sex. This cannot always be avoided, but talk with all leaders and parents about how to minimize the risks. Consider phoning ahead to give the parents an expected time of arrival.

Sources: ‘Keeping Them Safe’, ‘The ABC Guide to Safety’ and ‘AYM Transport Guidelines’