Policy Memorandum 13-01: Official Travel Driving Policy

What It Is

Policy Memorandum 13-01 establishes an updated policy for National Park Service (NPS) employees driving on official travel. Due to the nature of the NPS mission, employees face situations where extended travel times are required.

This policy maintains the current 10-hour daily maximum driving limit while providing expanded flexibility to allow employees to safely reach their destinations. A maximum 12-hour travel day has been established to allow employees greater latitude to combine work and travel time in the same day. This policy only applies to employees who are in official travel status and driving.

For the purposes of this policy, “official travel” is defined as any NPS employee driving while on an approved travel authorization using government, rental, or personally owned vehicles.

Why It Matters

In 2011, an NPS employee was killed after driving several long days across country between duty stations. The accident investigation revealed that the NPS lacked a clear policy addressing how long employees may drive while on official travel in a single day. A scientific study conducted in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) showed a direct correlation between the length of time spent driving a motor vehicle and associated traffic accidents. Specifically, the study showed the highest risks occurred in the 11th hour of driving (USDOT, May 2011).

Additional Information

There are exceptions stated in this policy memorandum; these exceptions are as follows:

  • Exceptions to the time frames outlined in this policy may be made in rare circumstances in order to accomplish immediate and critical operational objectives and/or address special needs such as emergency incidents.
  • Exceptions require supervisory approval based on a discussion between the supervisor and employee using the principles of Operational Leadership. Both will consider mission urgency and risk factors such as hours worked prior to travel, familiarity with route, length of trip, weather and road conditions, fatigue, and overnight stops. The decision must be documented by a supervisor as soon as practicable.
  • NPS employees assigned to wildfire or prescribed fire incidents will follow driving standards found in the current year’s Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations.


  • How have your travel and driving habits changed since this policy went into effect?
  • If you are a supervisor or manager, does this policy help you explain the importance of safe travel habits to your employees?

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