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Diocese implements safe driver platform

By JOANNE FOX, Globe editor
(Email Joanne)

If you have ever volunteered for an activity related to your faith, you may well have been on the road at some point.

Be it transporting young people to the annual youth rally or driving others to pick up those last-minute needs for the church dinner, you are under the auspices of your parish.

A growing area of liability exposure within the Catholic Church is related to driving and transportation activities.

In an effort to reduce the chance of loss in this area and assist parishes, schools and institutions with the regulations regarding drivers, the Diocese of Sioux City has implemented a new policy as part of its Risk Management Department.

Catholic Mutual Group of Omaha created the Safety Education Solutions online training platform. The online defensive driving course Be Smart – Drive Safe is now mandatory for all employees and volunteers who drive as part of their position.

This includes all drivers of diocesan-, parish-, or school-owned vehicles in addition to privately owned-vehicles. Drivers are required to complete the training by Oct. 1.

According to Mark Wetz, diocesan risk management director, the first individuals to “test-run” the online program were Central Catholic Office employees.

“We would like our staff here to be the first to complete the platform to garner feedback on the process,” he said. “This way, if there are any issues, we can trouble-shoot before we send it out to everyone in the diocese.”

For the Be Smart – Drive Smart program, participants self-register online, watch a brief video and must successfully answer one test question. The answer is recorded and documented on the platform to verify compliance with the new policy. Users must also complete a Driver Information Sheet, even if one has been submitted in the past.

Wetz emphasized the training is free and can be easily accessed when it is most convenient for the user.

“The course takes less than 20 minutes to complete,” he said. “The instructions are clear and straightforward.”

The Diocese of Sioux City also requires that at least one individual in an administrative position at a parish, school or institution location complete the online training course “Church/School Transportation – Is it Necessary and Ministry-Based?,” as well as review the 11-15 Passenger Van Policy.

“These courses are on the same Be Smart – Drive Smart platform and available during the self-registration process,” Wetz noted.

Initial feedback has been positive from participants.

“We noted a few mistakes in the registration process, but those were quickly corrected,” Wetz pointed out. “We are very grateful to our diocesan employees who have taken the time to help us fine-tune our end-user instructions so we see can improve these for the best end-user experience.”

For more information, contact Jean Mollet in the Risk Management office at (712) 233-7548 or jeanm@scdiocese.org.

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