HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -- Everyone hates a bad driver, but it’s especially bad when they are driving a government car paid for by taxpayers.
For some, it’s enraging enough to call that number on their bumper or email a complaint, but does it do anything?
Channel 3 did some digging, broke down the numbers, and found out how the complaints are handled.
Those bumper stickers were put on government issued cars in 2009, allowing others to make complaints.
Some viewers say state employees have broken a few rules on the road from time-to-time, from bobbing and weaving in traffic, to texting and driving, to giving an obscene gesture.
Channel 3 dug through 862 complaints made about state vehicles between Jan. 1, 2016 to Aug. 8 of this year.
The complaints are logged by the Department of Administrative Services. They’re the ones that rent out or lease fleets to other state departments.
Amid the 862 complaints, Channel 3 broke them down into seven categories: Speeding, tailgating, erratic driving (including swerving lane changes), running lights, and not yielding.
One complaint made said the “Vehicle was weaving in and out of lanes, passing from the other side of cars, and cutting other stuff off. Looked like something out of Grand Theft Auto!”
Then there’s texting, on the phone, improper parking, and the “other” category, including tail lights out, throwing garbage out the window, out of state, not wearing a seatbelt, and in some cases driving too slow.
One complaint that was put into this category about a state driver was she “failed to clean off the snow and sleet from the top of her car from the previous nor'easter.”
- Erratic Driving- 407
- On the Phone-74
- Improper Parking-42
There’s always that conversation about who is the better driver, men or women. According to the complaints, 209 were made against men, 278 were made against women, and 375 were “unknown” genders.
Just based on the sheer number of complaints, which department has the worst drivers?
Dept. of Children and Families came in at number one with 413 complaints.
The Department of Developmental Services had 97, and the rest of the top 5 were in the 40’s.
- Department of Children and Families (DCF)- 413
- Department of Developmental Services (DDS)- 97
- Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS)- 48
- Department of Corrections (DOC)-47
- Department of Transportation (DOT)- 45
Each department said they take each complaint seriously, investigate, and take different disciplinary action depending on the alleged offense.
In a statement, Dept. of Children and Families spokesman Gary Kleeblatt said “The Department take its responsibilities very seriously, including the efficient use of our time and state resources overall. We expect our staff to conduct their work safely and with respect for our clients and the public in general. When a complaint is made we assess each one individually and take appropriate action as warranted under the circumstances.”
Kathryn Rock-Burns, of the Dept. of Developmental Serivces said “DDS is committed to ensuring the safety of both staff and community members and takes all state vehicle complaints seriously. Each complaint received from DAS Fleet Operations is thoroughly investigated by the supervising manager of the division to which the car is assigned. If an employee is found to have violated agency work rules or state policies regarding proper operation of fleet vehicles, appropriate counseling and disciplinary action is taken.”
Diana Lejardi, spokeswoman of the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services said “DMHAS employees utilizing state vehicles in the course of their work are expected to follow all state driving and traffic laws. In the event that DMHAS is notified of a complaint of an employee’s driving or use of a state vehicle, the complaint is referred to the program director to which the car is assigned. Depending on a number of factors, including the nature of the complaint, and whether or not the complaint can be substantiated, the employee may be counseled by their supervisor, the complaint may be referred to Human Resources for further investigation and possible disciplinary action, or, if the employee can demonstrate that they did not commit the alleged violation (e.g. they were at a different location at the time the alleged violation took place), the complaint may be dismissed. Whenever the agency receives a complaint about an employee’s driving, the employee is reminded that they must follow all state driving and traffic laws whenever using a state vehicle.”
In a statement, Karen Martucci of the Dept. of Correction said “The Department of Correction investigates each complaint received and if substantiated, the violation will be appropriately addressed between the employee and their unit head or direct supervisor. We take these complaints seriously since our agency is tasked with transporting offenders all around the state on any given day. Our employees are expected to adhere to all laws and associated departmental rules while traveling in state vehicles. A good sign is that these type of complaints have decreased over the past three years, with a significant drop seen thus far in 2018.”
Kevin Nursick, of the Dept. of Transportation said “The Commissioner expects all DOT employees to obey all traffic laws when operating state vehicles, and all complaints about driver behavior are investigated and taken seriously. Validated complaints are handled with proportional discipline which can range from verbal counseling to termination from employment, depending on the severity of the violation. With that said, it is important to understand the scope of DOT’s statewide operations which include roughly 2500 vehicles accumulating tens of millions of miles on the roads each year. While 45 complaints may seem to be a large number, compared to our level of exposure, it is actually very low. Ideally we would have no complaints and that is what we strive for.”
The DOT pointed out something to be taken into consideration and that’s how much driving their employees are doing.
Administrative services lease out about 3,300 vehicles on a given month.
- DCF: 743 leased vehicles
- DDS: 401 leased vehicles
- DOC: 526 leased vehicles
- DMHAS: 21 leased vehicles
- DOT: 132 leased vehicles
- TOTAL: 3359
Some departments have more vehicles than those just leased.