Letter Report on the Department of Parks and Recreation’s Monitoring of Its Employees Who Drive City-Owned or Personally-Owned Vehicles on City Business
March 30, 2017 | SZ17-062AL
The audit determined whether the Department of Parks and Recreation (“Parks” or “the Department”) is effectively monitoring its employees who drive City-owned or personally-owned vehicles on City business. The audit found that Parks properly monitors the driving behavior of its authorized drivers. This opinion does not include our review of Parks’ monitoring and controls over its drivers’ vehicle usage, which will be discussed in a separate report.
New York City requires that employees who operate City-owned or personally-owned vehicles to conduct City business must exercise reasonable care when driving them. This requirement is outlined in the City of New York’s “City Vehicle Driver Handbook” (“Handbook”). Agency heads, working through their Agency Transportation Coordinators (“ATCs”), must ensure that all employees who are assigned a City-owned vehicle, either for full-time use or temporary use, are authorized by their respective agencies to drive. The ATC must also ensure that each driver has a valid license. An employee’s driver’s license must be issued by New York State (“NYS”) unless the employee is exempt from City residency requirements. In that case, the authorized driver must have a valid license from the state where he or she resides, and in all cases the license must have the appropriate classification for the vehicle which an employee will be driving on City business. The Handbook further specifies that City agencies must establish programs that promote driving safety along with proper training in the use of motor vehicles.
City agencies participating in the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) License Event Notification System (“LENS”) program are separately required to monitor the driving behavior of their employees. Pursuant to the LENS program, each participating agency ATC will be notified of any event that affects the status of an agency driver’s license, such as expiration, the accumulation of points, an accident, and charges against an employee for driving while impaired or under the influence. This enables the ATC to ensure that only employees with valid licenses are driving on City business.
In January 2014, the City launched the Vision Zero Action Plan (“Plan”), a comprehensive initiative to reduce driver, bicyclist and pedestrian injuries and fatalities in New York City. The Plan detailed steps to improve street safety, including lowering the speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25 miles per hour and increasing the penalties for driving with a suspended license and leaving the scene of an accident. The Plan also proposed increasing the number of red light cameras and installing additional traffic devices to control speeding. With respect to City employees, the Plan implemented a City-wide defensive driving program and added safety-related equipment and devices to City vehicles.
The audit found that Parks effectively monitors the driving behavior of its authorized drivers. Parks subscribes to the DMV’s LENS program, receives its updates and in a timely manner revokes the privileges of drivers who have suspended or revoked licenses, as prescribed by the applicable regulations. Parks also ensures that employees who must maintain a driver’s license for employment comply with that requirement. The Department evaluates each driver and determines if he or she can properly drive a City vehicle. For those employees who did not maintain an appropriate license Parks takes appropriate disciplinary actions, which could include termination. The Department takes steps to ensure that employees who do not live within New York State adhere to state motor vehicle regulations. In addition, Parks ensures that its licensed drivers have appropriate endorsements or classifications to drive their assigned vehicles. Moreover, Parks provides its employees with a required safety awareness program.
The audit recommends that Parks continue to monitor the driving behavior of its authorized drivers and promote driver awareness and public safety programs, as required.
In its response, Parks agreed with the report’s findings and recommendations and stated, “We are pleased that your Report concluded that Parks effectively monitors the driving behavior of its authorized drivers. The agency works diligently to ensure safe driving behavior among our employees and we are glad that your findings affirm that. . . . We strongly agree with your recommendation that Parks should continue to monitor the driving behavior of its authorized drivers and promote driver awareness and public safety programs, as required. We will work to ensure the continuation of these standards.”