NY State DMV Records

E-DriverFileAccording to a recent article in Heavy Duty Trucking (click HERE), the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles is making additional information available to prosecutors about a driver’s ticket history.

Specifically:

The information will be available for tickets issued during the past 10 years when the original charge was a point bearing violation, a drug or alcohol related offense, or was for aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Currently, only data on convictions is available to prosecutors.

The article in HDT offers this explanation of why this is important:

Many times when a motorist goes to court, the original ticket is pled down to a lesser charge, according to a release. Often this is done because the prosecutor or the Another example of a blended scorecourt is not aware that the driver has a pattern of dangerous driving behaviors. As an example, it is common practice for courts and prosecutors to allow motorists charged with speeding offenses to plead those charges down to lesser offenses such as parking violations.

“By giving prosecutors a more complete story of a person’s driving history, they can make informed decisions and help ensure that potentially dangerous drivers no longer fall through the cracks,” Gov. Cuomo.

In 2010, in town, village, city and district courts, 129,628 speeding charges were pled down from a speeding violation to “parking on pavement.” In 2011, 112,996 such pleas were accepted. Speeding convictions result in anywhere from 3 to 11 points being placed on a license, depending on the miles per hour over the speed limit. If a motorist acquires 11 or more points within 18 months, their license may be suspended by the DMV. However, there are no points associated with a parking on the pavement charge.

Accident AnalysisOften following a tragic crash involving one or more fatalities, the prosecutor’s office may file criminal charges against the commercial operator.  Under this new process, the prosecutors might have more information about the driver’s history of violation activity than the safety director; therefore, it will become more important than ever before for commercial fleet operations to maintain excellent records on their drivers.

FredPoust School bus crashIn the case of Frederick Poust, a commercial school bus driver from Pennsylvania who was convicted of causing a fatality (after being video recorded missing ten stop signs and using both cellphone and MP3 player during the morning trip prior to the crash) the Pennsylvania DMV changed its policies about older violation records which might have prevented the school district from qualifying him as fit to drive (he had a prior fatal crash that did not get reported on his MVR). (Click HERE for article)  The state Representative pushing the change was quoted as saying:

“…if you do a simple Google search you could find out more about what Poust allegedly had done than what you could find out with PennDOT’s record”

Now PA will provide the entire (lifetime) history of violations for school bus drivers so that employers will be better equipped to qualify, train and monitor their drivers.

SUMMARY

Our chief concern, and what was not immediately made clear by the article in HDT, is whether both the fleet manager and the prosecutor’s office will receive the exact same data when an MVR (motor vehicle record) is pulled.

  • If the answer is YES, it would be fair and may actually help prevent crashes by making a more complete picture of past behaviors available to safety directors.  
  • If the answer is NO, then why should employers be “kept in the dark” about events that may be used against employee drivers?

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Driver Safety Hotline – Dealing with Reports

cropped-decal-ate-truck.jpgOne of the most often asked questions from safety managers is “what am I supposed to do with a driver who has received a Motorist Observation Report?”

Blended Risk ScoreFor many, the assumption is that a report = disciplinary action, blame setting, arguments and confrontations that lead to sulky drivers and higher turnover.

However, that’s never what we had in mind (despite our competitors ingraining that ‘mentality’ into their fleet customers over the past three decades)….

The goal of a safety hotline is to increase safety results, not punish drivers.  

Unfortunately, many supervisors have never had training or education on “how to coach/counsel” for improved habits and to motivate drivers to seek a better level of safety awareness.  The other issue is often a lack of tools in the tool kit to help drivers.

Another traffic picFor example, when we send a report we not only provide as much detail as possible (taking a paragraph or two to describe what happened) but we also use a tactic called “polite interrogation” of the motorist.  This sounds horrible, but we’re working on behalf of the commercial driver, not the caller.  Therefore, we ask open ended questions instead of trying to simply fill out a checklist.  We have a few other tricks of the trade to help vet these calls, but a good artist never reveals all of their secrets.

Next, we have our computer system attach one-page safety fact sheets to reports which match the specific habit types listed on the report (i.e. tailgating, swerving in traffic, running red lights, etc.)  The driver reads these sheets and signs/dates the bottom of the form to document at least minimal training has been provided.

We send a link to a supervisory video program on how to conduct proactive, cooperative coaching sessions.  This includes role play scenarios on the most common issues presented by drivers.

Additionally, our reports “recommend” specific 5 to 7 minute remedial, online, interactive training courses with “one-click” ordering of multiple courses (one course for each key habit issue) so that drivers get the training they need the most based on actual observations.  Some vendors limit you to picking the most egregious habit (can only assign one course—and their courses average 37 to 42 minutes long apiece—YIKES, talk about mind-numbing disrespect of a professional driver and a waste of time, energy and resource)

Driver Safety Cycles

Summary

Our program isn’t about pointing fingers, setting blame or yelling at drivers.

Our program is a DRIVER EDUCATION program that happens to use stickers as a triggering agent to identify who needs the MOST URGENT attention on SPECIFIC TOPICS, right now, BEFORE a crash or moving violation happen.

Our goal is to help supervisors focus on the few drivers who just need a little “course correction” before they’re off the rails.  This is prevention at it’s best. 

Other food for thought from very recent client case studies (past two years)…..

  • One of our clients operates 12,000 trucks.  They installed GPS.  Their GPS provider had no mechanism for them to translate the data into actionable follow ups with individual drivers.  During the second year, all excessive speed alerts (driving more than a set maximum threshold) came to us to be processed as Motorist Observation Reports (to use our coaching process.)  Since the rule was that none of these could be deleted, each incident must end up with coaching offered to the driver.  Net results?  By the end of the second year, they had decreased GPS speed alerts by 600% (From 1700 down to 174).  This was by “no-fault” coaching instead of discipline and termination – result was curbing behavior while increasing tenure.
  • Another client with 450 tractor trailers (over the road trucking) has GPS.  They got 470 hotline calls (motorist observation reports) in the first year on the program (more than one per tractor!) – out of these, ONLY five were ‘inaccurate” based on GPS readings for location/speed at time of report – that’s only 1% considered inaccurate and all remaining reports were used for coaching.  Their accident frequency has stayed about the same; however, severity per claim is “significantly lower” than the prior year and they believe it’s due to the drivers being aware of their surroundings and using the training we’ve provided to modify their habits.

SafetyFirst