In the Uniting Church, helping others is integral to our mission and demonstrates our lived values.   

Sometimes apparently simple acts of service, like giving a lift to church, make a hugely positive difference to someone’s life.  As well as being able attending the worship service itself, for many in our congregations it is also an opportunity for connection and fellowship which may be vital to a person’s health and wellbeing.   

Though our main thought when providing transport to church is about helping others, we also need to consider the responsibility we take on when we have passengers in our own vehicle.   

The following guidance has been prepared for people who give others a lift to church, and for Church Councils to assist them manage the risk associated with this activity. It doesn’t relate to formal programs of arrangements made by the Church Council.  

It should be noted that though it is a generous and thoughtful gesture, providing someone a lift to church is generally not considered a volunteer activity of the church and, as such, is not an insurable activity for the purposes of Synod insurance.   

Responsibilities of the driver 

Even for drivers who are experienced and careful to abide by the road rules, it can be helpful to consider a few reminders. In any situation when you are giving someone a lift, your passenger has a reasonable expectation that  

  • the vehicle is registered  
  • the vehicle is insured  
  • the seatbelts and safety features are functional 
  • the vehicle is fully roadworthy and is fuelled for the journey. 

It would also be expected that the driver holds a current drivers licence appropriate to the vehicle they will be driving e.g. you may need a LR class licence if you are driving a minibus that seats 12. 

Drivers also need to abide by any conditions identified on their driver’s licence such as 

  • the wearing of glasses  
  • not driving after dark 
  • driving within stipulated areas (such as the local area). 

In any situation where you give someone a lift, your passenger expects you to abide by the road rules so they are safe, and feel comfortable. 

Things to be mindful of when giving someone a lift to/from church 

Often the reason someone will need a lift to church is because they are not so mobile.  You will need to be mindful of this in relation to your involvement; 

  • Make sure you have the contact details of your passenger/s so you can call and let them know your anticipated time of arrival to collect them  
  • Allow plenty of time – it may take extra time for your passenger/s to get in and out of the vehicle (at both ends of the journey) 
  • If needed, bring someone else along to help 
  • If mobility of your passenger/s is a concern, it might be a good idea for the congregation to identify and allocate a drop-off area in front of the church (if it is safe to do so)  
  • Before you give someone a lift for the first time talk with them about any special needs they might have;  
  • whether they need any assistance and if so, how best you can help them (it might be about how they get in and out of your vehicle) 
  • whether sitting on one side of the car or the other is preferable (which would influence where and how you may approach to either pick them up or drop them off) 
  • When you have a new passenger always bring someone to help you, just in case. 
  • If you are giving a lift to a child (under the age of 18) always bring someone else.  Do not give a lift to a child unless there is someone else present and parents/carers have given express permission. 

When is it not a good idea to give someone a lift? 

As much as you don’t want to let your passenger/s down by not being able to give them a lift, there may be times when it is neither safe for you as the driver, or them as the passenger to be in the car together.   

Some of these are listed below, feel free to contact us with other suggestions to add to this list; 

  • COVID19 precautions are still needed.  If you are feeling even slightly unwell you should not have others in your vehicle (or go to church yourself) This is also the case if your passenger is feeling unwell. 
  • Apart from COVID19 symptoms, if you are feeling unwell you should not put yourself in situations where you might spread an illness, even a cold.  
  • Don’t drive when you are on medications that can cause drowsiness or preclude driving 
  • Don’t drive when you are too tired or just not feeling up to it. 

Within our congregations we need to have a plan about what we will do if we are unable to give a promised lift to a fellow congregation member, especially at short notice. 

What to consider if you are unable to give your passenger/s a lift 

If you are unable to perform the task of driving; 

  • Contact your passenger/s to let them know you are unable to give them a lift.  Ask them if they would like to see if someone else can help.  Be mindful that they may not feel comfortable with anyone driving them; or with sharing their personal details such as their address and phone number  
  • If you organise someone else to drive them, call your passenger/s to let them know who will be coming to pick them up  
  • Have the driver call the passenger/s to organise details of their pick-up.