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Volunteer Drivers Guide - Section 6

Training Volunteer Drivers

The quality of service and the Sponsoring Organization's access to insurance depend upon the driver's ability to effectively interact with the community and to safely operate specialized vehicles. Drivers who transport community members are legally held to a higher degree of care than any other driver on the road.

A Sponsoring Organization should require specific training for all drivers operating vehicles or providing transportation services as part of a volunteer driver program. Training for all volunteers should be structured to conform to the duties in the job description. Programs should either identify a staff person or persons to be a trainer or can arrange for timely access to other trainers.

Note: Many funding agencies require certain types of training for volunteer drivers. Sponsoring Organizations should check with their respective funding agencies for their specific requirements. 

What About the Cost of Training?

The Sponsoring Organization should provide the required training at no cost to active volunteers. To ease the burden of the cost of outside training, the Sponsoring Organization may be able to get assistance by requesting technical assistance from other transportation providers.

  1. Take advantage of low cost training that is available through the Washington State Transportation Training Coalition (WSTTC), sponsored by WSDOT's Public Transportation and Commute Options Office. [Link 15 -]
  2. Request scholarships through the Rural Transit Assistance Program (RTAP). [Link 16 -]

Documentation is Important

Sponsoring Organizations are responsible for assuring their volunteers are current with all training requirements and that driver files are properly maintained with the appropriate certificates of training completion. Training documentation, including certificates of completion, should be maintained in driver files. More information on driver files is outlined in Section 10 - Program Records.

Why Use a Driver Training Checklist?

A training checklist form should be used to document the training progress of transportation volunteers. [Form 22a: Training Standards; Form 22b: Training Checklist] The Training Checklist should be updated each time a training course is completed. In addition, Sponsoring Organizations should require that the drivers sign a statement acknowledging the training they received. Sponsoring Organization may maintain a signature form for each training session or develop a composite form.

Recommended Types of Training

Below are specific types of training that are recommended for all volunteer driver programs.


Driver orientation training should cover all of the aspects that would usually be explained to any new employee, e.g., organizational mission and values, job description, expectations, completion of forms, reporting requirements, vehicle operation, public relations, ethics, code of conduct, harassment policies, and reimbursement procedures. [Attachment 5: Driver Orientation]

Vehicle Operation, Lift Operation, Wheelchair Securement, and Road Experience

Upon acceptance of a volunteer, the volunteer driver should be given training on vehicle operations, lift operations and wheelchair securement. In addition, road experience observation and testing must be completed prior to transporting passengers.

For drivers who only use their personal vehicles, vehicle orientation with lift operation and wheelchair securement is not required. However, road experience observation and testing is required for all drivers.

All training should be documented and become a permanent part of the volunteer's personnel file. [Form 23: Road Test; Form 24a: Lift Operation Procedures Checklist; Form24b: Securement Procedures Checklist; Link 17 - Headstart Guidelines:]

Note: Road testing should be repeated at least annually and for cause with all drivers. This is an opportunity to identify volunteers who may have developed undesirable driving habits or may be experiencing effects of aging that can affect driving ability.

Controlling Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens

Each Sponsoring Organization should provide appropriate training on transmission of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and other bloodborne pathogens.

Sponsoring Organizations should develop a plan to minimize exposure. The plan should be reviewed at least annually to ensure proper effectiveness in minimizing exposure. The controls contained in the plan are designed to be a guide for programs when designing their exposure control procedures. Bloodborne pathogen control training should be provided to volunteers prior to transporting or assisting riders in the Sponsoring Organization's vehicles. [Attachment 12: Bloodborne Pathogen Policy; Link 9 - Center for Disease Control; Link 10 -OSU Training Module:]

Sponsoring Organizations should consider the following practices in relation to Bloodborne Pathogens:

  1. Volunteers should sign a document verifying receipt of the instructions and their understanding of proper bloodborne exposure control procedures.
  2. All vehicles used to transport riders should have a Body Fluid Precaution Kit stored in a convenient location inside the vehicle. Body Fluid Precaution Kits differ from First Aid kits in that they contain products and equipment to minimize exposure to infectious body fluids. The Red Cross provides instructions on how to make the kits.
  3. The driver should document any exposure to body fluids. They may do this with the Exposure Incident Report Form and report. The form and report should then be turned in to the Manager. [Form 25: Exposure Incident Report]
  4. The Manager should conduct a post-exposure evaluation and document any recommendations for follow-up.

Note: Training on Bloodborne pathogens is recommended for all volunteer programs; however, many funding agencies require this training be given to volunteers.

Defensive Driving Training

Within 60 days following the initial driving assignment all drivers should complete an approved Defensive Driving Course (FLI/National Safety Council or Equivalent). This training is available through a variety of sources and formats and may soon be available through the Internet in a self-paced, self-scored format.
Note: Washington State law allows licensed drivers, age 55 and over, to receive reductions in private automobile insurance premiums if they complete an approved eight-hour vehicle accident prevention course. Each course includes information about the effects of aging on driving; driver problem areas such as yielding the right of way, driver awareness, speeding, passing, road signs and signals; and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
[Link 11 - Senior Driver Training:]

Passenger Assistance and Sensitivity Training

Within 60 days following the initial driving assignment, all volunteer drivers should have Passenger Assistance Training (PAT), CTAA Passenger Service and Safety Certification training (PASS), or an equivalent course. This training should emphasize sensitivity and assistance to elderly and persons with disabilities, communication with riders, and bloodborne pathogen exposure control. [Attachment 6: Etiquette and Behavior for Dealing With a Person With Disabilities; Attachment 7: Manual for Transportation of Persons with Disabilities; Attachment 8: Head Start-Requirements for Transporting Students with Disabilities; Link 18 - Easter Seals Family Caregiver Support Transportation Program:]

Car Seats and Child Securement

All drivers that are going to transport children in any vehicle should have training in current State and Federal requirements for car seats and booster chairs. In addition, they should be trained on how to properly install these devices. [Link 12 - State by State Child Restraint Laws:; Link 13 - National Safety Council:]

Keep the following in mind when addressing the transportation of children:

  1. It is recommended that vehicles owned by the Sponsoring Organization be equipped with child seats and booster chairs that can be properly fitted to the vehicle.
  2. If the volunteer is using their POV, take care to ensure that the car seat or booster chair can be properly fitted to the vehicle.
  3. Car seats provided by the rider's parents or personal representatives must not be used in either private automobiles or in the Sponsoring Organization's vehicles. This is because the privately owned car seat or booster chair may:
    1. Not be a currently approved design
    2. Have been in use during an accident
    3. Be older than six years
    4. Not be securable given the design of the car seat in comparison to the vehicle's seat belts
  4. Drivers should be trained about proper seating positions related to operational airbags. Riding in a seat equipped with air bags can be dangerous even for adults with small statures.

CPR and First Aid, and Emergency Response

First Aid and CPR training is optional for all drivers. Risk management professionals differ on the liability benefits and/or detriments of this training. Each Sponsoring Organization should develop a policy on this issue. If the training is not required, drivers should be trained how to access available emergency services.

All of the Sponsoring Organization's vehicles should be equipped with two-way radios, cell phones or other communication devices that reliably operate in the service area. Some programs have developed cell phone loan programs for their POV drivers. An excellent source of Emergency Response training is the RTAP video and workbook, Emergency Procedures for Rural Transit Drivers.

Gatekeeper Training

All transportation volunteers should receive Gatekeeper training to give volunteer drivers a broad orientation to the social service network in the service area. With Gatekeeper training drivers can make appropriate referrals for other services that riders may need. The training on confidentiality can be included in the Gatekeeper training curriculum. [Form 26: Gatekeeper Information]

Abuse, Neglect, Abandonment, and Exploitation

Certain defined professionals are required to report suspected abuse, neglect, abandonment, and exploitation of vulnerable adults and children. Social service program volunteers may be subject to these. Sponsoring Organizations should provide training on these issues and document completion of the training. [Form 27a: Description of Abuse, Neglect, Abandonment and Exploitation; Form 27b: APS Reporting Form]

Drug-Free Workplace

All volunteers must have training about the Federal Drug-Free Workplace Act. Sponsoring Organizations should document the driver's understanding of this training. [Form 28: Drug-Free Workplace]