SAGS025-K – Alternative Vehicles

Environmental Health & Safety

Alternative Vehicles UTK Environmental Health & Safety Policy GS-025

To establish guidelines for the safe use of alternative vehicles while operating on university streets or property.

Effective Date: 03/01/2015

Revision Date: 07/01/2016


To establish guidelines for the safe use of alternative vehicles while operating on university streets or property.

Scope and Applicability

All alternative vehicles operated on university streets or property are governed by this policy.

Abbreviations and Definitions

Definitions and Terms

Alternative Vehicle (ATV) – A motor driven vehicle not meeting the definition of a sedan, truck, pickup or van and whose primary function is transportation

Examples include the following:

  1. All-terrain vehicles
  2. Carts
  3. Utility carts
  4. Golf carts
  5. Segways

Excluded from the definition are powered industrial trucks (e.g. forklifts), tractors, cranes, mobile lifts,

backhoes, lawn mowers, bulldozers, and similar equipment whose intended purpose is not transportation. Motorized skateboards are also excluded.

Acquired After July 1, 2016 – Alternative vehicles that are purchased, leased, traded for, loaned, donated, and similar activities where an alternative vehicle is under the control of a student, staff, or faculty member.

Campus-owned Streets – includes all streets on campus that are owned by the University. Excluded from this definition are the streets Neyland Drive, Alcoa Highway (route 129), and Cumberland Avenue. Much of Volunteer is now a campus street with the exception of the western span from Cumberland Avenue to Todd Helton.

Roles and Responsibilities

Policy Administrator

Questions regarding the interpretation or implementation of this policy should be directed to one of the following: UT Police (974-3114), Parking & Transit Services (974-6031), or Environmental Health and Safety (974-5084).

Policy Statement

General Requirements

All alternative vehicles operated on university streets or property are governed by this policy. All operators of alternative vehicles must meet the following criteria before operating these types of vehicles on University of Tennessee property:

  1. The vehicle must be registered with the appropriate permit from the University of Tennessee Parking and Transit Services. The permit must be displayed on the front fender of the vehicle.
  2. Be at least 18 years old.
  3. Possess a valid driver’s license.
  4. Know and adhere to the State of Tennessee Motor Vehicle Laws.
  5. Successfully complete an Alternative Vehicle Safety Training Program, which includes a signed statement of understanding and compliance. (Appendix A).

Vehicle Operating Standards

Alternative/Off-Road Vehicle operation is governed under Tennessee Code Annotated 55-8-185: Use of off-road motor vehicles on highways (see Appendix B). Operators are subject to the rules of the road, including stopping, turning and safe operation. Alternative vehicle operators observed in violation of these rules can by cited by the police. The University of Tennessee Police Department is responsible for enforcing these rules on campus.


  1. Alternative vehicles shall be operated in a manner that does not interfere with normal pedestrian or vehicular traffic flow.
  2. Alternative vehicles will be driven only on campus-owned streets and pedestrian sidewalks (with the exception of Intersection Rule 2 as listed below) on campus
  3. No vehicle traffic will be permitted on covered walkways, dedicated pedestrian bridges, or in buildings unless prior approval is granted by the University of Tennessee Parking and Transit Services.
  4. Always travel at least six feet away from buildings.
  5. Operators are to use extreme caution at all times. Stunt driving, excessive speed and horseplay are prohibited.
  6. Operators or passengers shall not jump on or off vehicles in motion.
  7. No passengers will be permitted on alternative vehicles unless provided with adequate seating. No one is permitted to ride on the running boards, fenders, or any part of the vehicle except the seats.
  8. Always remain seated and hold on while vehicle is in motion.
  9. Operators may not wear headsets, ear protection or other devices at any time which may impede their ability to operate the vehicle.
  10. Avoid sudden stops or change of direction that may result in a loss of control.
  11. Operators shall not stop in the middle of roads or walkways.
  12. Alternative vehicles are not to be driven or parked on landscape and lawn areas unless it is the only available way to allow a pedestrian the proper right-of-way. The vehicle should be brought to a full stop on the landscaped area, then immediately returned to the walkway as soon as the area is clear.
  13. DO NOT leave keys in unattended vehicles.
  14. Operators of alternative vehicles that will be used in remote areas are encouraged to consult the Offsite Safety Guide found in the UT Safety Manual.
  15. Vehicles operated after dark shall be equipped with headlights and tail lights.

Speed Limit

  1. All speed limits shall be observed. When driving an alternative vehicle on a walkway during heavy pedestrian traffic, vehicle speeds shall be reduced to a walking pace.
  2. Operators must always consider the terrain, weather conditions, existing pedestrian and vehicular traffic that may require driving at slower speeds.

Intersections and Crosswalks

  1. Operators must come to a complete stop before crossing a roadway or proceeding through intersecting sidewalks or other areas that have blind spots.
  2. Alternative vehicles cannot use pedestrian crosswalks to cross roadways. To avoid the use of pedestrian crosswalks, an operator may need to merge into the normal flow of traffic at a reasonable and prudent distance from the intersection. This will allow the vehicle to safely cross the intersection without obstructing traffic, illegally using the pedestrian crosswalk or impeding the flow of traffic. This is in accordance to the Tennessee Code Annotated 55-8-185, where off-highway motor vehicles are only allowed to drive on a road “at a place where a quick and safe crossing may be made.”
  3. When the vehicle is crossing the road, the operator must abide by the rules of the road. When making turns, the operator must signal using either a mechanical/light turning signal or an arm turning signal.
  4. Operators must obey all traffic signals. Operators must look in all directions prior to entering the intersections and crossing.
  5. Slow down before and during turns. All turns shall be executed at reduced speeds. Pedestrians
  6. Pedestrians have the right-of-way on campus. Alternative vehicles must yield to pedestrians on sidewalks.
  7. Operators must account for the fact that a pedestrian may be physically impaired and unable to hear or see the vehicle, or unable to move quickly.
  8. Operators must reduce speeds in heavy pedestrian traffic or stop until the pedestrian traffic has lessened.
  9. Operators must never attempt to get pedestrians out of their way by intimidating them to step off the sidewalk.
  10. Whenever an operator feels he/she cannot predict the actions of a pedestrian or other vehicle operator, he/she must come to a complete stop before proceeding.


  1. The department responsible for the unit/vehicle is also responsible for locating a safe location to store the vehicle that does not block parking spaces or blocks ingress or egress. Keys shall be removed from the vehicle while it is unattended.
  2. Alternative vehicles shall not be parked within 10 feet of the entrance or exit of any building, except at loading docks.
  3. Alternative vehicles shall not be parked in a way that blocks fire hydrants, emergency exits, and vehicular or pedestrian traffic. Vehicles shall not be parked in fire lanes, in metered parking spaces, on sidewalks, in handicapped parking, impeding handicapped ramps or in reserved parking.


  1. Alternative vehicles equipped with a back carriage shall not be loaded in excess of the manufacturer’s rating. Overloading decreases maneuverability and safe operation.
  2. Materials and equipment shall be loaded and secured so they will not cause a hazard by shifting or falling off the vehicle.
  3. Top heavy equipment is especially dangerous and should be secured near the center of the vehicle to avoid tipping. Be extremely careful during turning maneuvers.
  4. Cargo must not extend more than one foot from either side or the front of a utility vehicle.
  5. Loads that extend more than three feet from the rear of the vehicle must be flagged with a brightly colored material, usually red or orange.
  6. Cargo such as pipe or ladders shall be secured/mounted on proper rack systems. Extra precaution must be taken when transporting these types of cargo in order to prevent injury to nearby pedestrians.
  7. The operator must not exceed the recommended towing capacity of the ATV when towing trailers or trailer-mounted equipment. The operator must ensure the trailer will not over power the braking abilities of the ATV.
  8. Safe material handling practices shall be followed when transporting chemicals such as containers of fuel or pesticide spray tanks. All containers/tanks must have spill-proof safety caps and be properly secured in the cargo area.

General Guidelines

Re-fuel and Battery Charging

  1. Re-fueling must be completed outdoors, away from any sources of ignition and at least 50 feet from building HVAC air-intakes.
  2. Smoking is prohibited when the vehicle is being re-fueled and within 15 feet of vehicles where battery charging is in progress.
  3. Battery charging shall be performed in areas with adequate ventilation.
  4. Approved flammable liquid storage cans must be used when re-fueling with portable containers.
  5. Refueling is prohibited with 20 feet of lawn and landscape areas.

Electrical/Mechanical System

  1. Vehicles must be inspected and maintained in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.
  2. Electrical or mechanical problems must be reported immediately by the vehicle operator to his/her supervisor.
  3. Vehicles that are unsafe to operate (e.g. brake failure) shall be taken out of service and secured to prevent use until repairs are completed.

AVTs Acquired After July 1, 2016

Alternative vehicles acquired after July 1, 2016 shall be through and delivered to Fleet Management.

For use on public roads, all carts acquired after the effective date of this policy must meet the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration (NHSTA) Standard 500 (49CFR Part 571.500), which is applicable to low-speed vehicles. The Standard 500 vehicles may also be known as neighborhood electric vehicles or NEV. The Standard 500 requires the cart be equipped with certain features including, but not limited to:

  1. Headlights (2)
  2. Front/rear turn signals
  3. Rear stoplights/ tail lamps
  4. Reflectors/reflective tape – 360 degree visibility
  5. Mirrors – rear view driver side and either a passenger side rear view or interior rear view
  6. Parking Brake
  7. Windshield – DOT AS-1 or AS-4 identification
  8. Vehicle Identification Number – 17 Digit
  9. Seat Belts – Either Type 1 (lap belt) or Type 2 (lap and shoulder harness)
  10. Certification Label – To indicate the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) not to exceed 1,361kg. or 3,000 lbs.
  11. In addition to the items listed above, certain safety equipment such as flashing hazard lights, a strobe/beacon light, doors and steering wheel locks may be specified by the University.

The minimum safety equipment/design specification on all non-Standard 500 carts must include:

  1. No fewer than four wheels touching the ground/roadway at all times.
  2. All original equipment must be in good working order.
  3. The rear must have a reflective triangle, including trailers attached to a cart.
  4. If operated after dusk and before dawn, headlights, taillights and brake lights (2 of each).
  5. A yellow or amber flashing light(s) visible from 360 degrees shall operate while the vehicle is in motion.
  6. A horn with an activation button/switch within reach of the driver.
  7. The vehicle must have an ignition/on-off key to allow removal of the key to prevent unauthorized use.
  8. Parking-brake with adequate strength to hold the cart at least a 15 degree angle.

Accident Reporting Procedure

All accidents involving an Alternative/Off-Road Vehicle will be reported immediately to the University of Tennessee Police Department and the department to which the vehicle belongs.

Training and Recordkeeping

Contractors shall assure that their employees are qualified to operate their alternative vehicles on campus streets

It shall be the department head’s responsibility to ensure that vehicle operators are trained. Authorized users of alternative vehicles shall successfully complete training prior to initial use of the vehicle. Participants must score 80% or better on a post-training quiz in order to be considered “authorized.” Results of the quizzes shall be kept by the department and serve as documentation of training. Environmental Health and Safety will provide training materials and quizzes for departments and/or support (instructor). The quizzes along with Appendix A from this document will be graded and returned to the departments by EHS.

EHS will maintain a central file online of individuals who have completed the training and assurance form.

Refresher training may be required for individuals who have demonstrated poor skills, either by a history of accidents, observed violation of this policy or subject to enforcement action while operating an alternative vehicle.

Initially, each operator must certify they have read and will comply with this policy.


ATV operators who violate this policy will be subject to monetary penalties as per existing Traffic and Parking Authority policy. Departments may elect to pay the fine on behalf of the individual or may have the ATV operator pay the fine.

The operator’s supervisor or department head will be notified when a ticket has been issued for an infraction.

Policy Review and Revisions

This policy shall be reviewed at least every three years and revised as needed by the Traffic and Parking Authority Committee. More frequent review may be completed in response to regulatory changes, upon request or when deficiencies are noted.


Tennessee Code Annotated Title 55 Chapter 8. 55-8-185. Use of off-highway motor vehicles on highways. See Appendix B below


The information provided in these guidelines is designed for educational use only and is not a substitute for specific training or experience.

The University of Tennessee Knoxville and the authors of these guidelines assume no liability for any individual’s use of or reliance upon any material contained or referenced herein. The material contained in these guidelines may not be the most current.

This material may be freely distributed for nonprofit educational use. However, if included in publications, written or electronic, attributions must be made to the author. Commercial use of this material is prohibited without express written permission from the author.


GS-025 Alternative Vehicles (downloadable pdf)

Appendix A: Alternative Vehicle Safety Assurance

Appendix B: Tennessee Code Use of off-highway motor vehicles on highways

SAGS025-K – Alternative Vehicles
Version: 1 // Effective: 07/16/2018
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