Washington State enhances transit driver safety monitoring

Posted on August 8, 2011 by Nicole Schlosser, Senior Editor

Yakima Transit is one of the agencies in Washington State that may soon opt in to an insurance service that sends reports every time there is activity one of their drivers’ licenses.
Yakima Transit is one of the agencies in Washington State that may soon opt in to an insurance service that sends reports every time there is activity one of their drivers’ licenses.
Transit agencies in the state of Washington will soon be able to obtain more frequent updates on the performance of their drivers both on- and off-duty.

Many of the state’s transit agencies belong to the Washington State Transit Insurance Pool, which is contracting with Charlotte, N.C.-based Data Driven Safety for driver monitoring. The company’s software, Envision, checks drivers’ licenses for public transit agencies and other businesses that use commercial vehicles, such as trucking companies. Data Driven Safety runs a daily check on the licenses of all the agency’s drivers. If there is any activity on a driver’s license, such as a DUI, the insurance company notifies the agency.

Washington-based Yakima Transit is looking into using this service, beginning with its volunteer vanpool drivers.

If all 132 drivers become involved — including the 25 Dial-a-Ride, 60 vanpool and 47 bus drivers — the cost would be anywhere from $132 per month for the basic plan to $462 per month for the more detailed plan.

“We haven’t started doing any of it yet,” Ken Mehin, GM, said. He added that the agency currently checks driver’s licenses every month, requiring a staff member to check every driver’s license. However, the new option runs the check automatically and sends a monthly report with all the activity.

The agency also will need to negotiate with the transit union.

“We need to get our vanpool drivers started, maybe in the next two to three months,” Mehin said. “With the operators, it could be another year or so. It depends on when we can negotiate.”

The new option is seen simply as a safety enhancement and has not been spurred by any particular incident, according to Mehin. “We have outstanding drivers here,” he said.

Yakima Transit provides two weeks of classroom training and three weeks of on-the-road training to its drivers. The classroom training includes company policies, passenger sensitivity and equipment training. The on-the-road training provides route, transfer and other on-road information, according to Mehin.

Yakima Transit operates its fixed-route division and its contractor, Tri-Cities Transportation, operates its Dial-A-Ride division.

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