Local drivers reported 25 incidents in the past year involving state employees behind the wheel of state-issued vehicles.
The state Department of Administrative Services’ Fleet Operations leases more than 3,500 vehicles for state employees engaging in state agency business, according to the DAS website.
The complaints, made from May 1, 2018 to May 1, 2019, about drivers on roads and highways in Meriden, Wallingford, Southington and Cheshire, were mostly about drivers reportedly speeding and driving dangerously.
Five complaints claimed the driver was using a cell phone.
The complaints included the following incidents:
• A man said he observed a Department of Correction utility vehicle reportedly with a “tail light out, cargo not secured, no flag indicating how much cargo sticking out the back” on March 21 in Meriden.
He provided a photo of the truck.
Karen Martucci, DOC director of external affairs, said via email that complaint was investigated by the agency.
“Maintenance staff assigned to this vehicle were picking up PVC piping for a chilled water leak repair,” Martucci said. “Assigned staff stated that they secured the materials and drove under the speed limits and only used local roads avoiding all state highways.”
The DOC employee received a “verbal coaching regarding proper hauling of materials including strapping and placement of flags was conducted,” she said, adding that the vehicle’s tail light has been repaired.
• A woman said she observed the driver of a DOC vehicle reportedly pass her on the right traveling 75 to 80 mph May 30, 2018 on the Route 66 connector to Interstate 691 in Meriden.
“I am six months’ pregnant and he put me in a dangerous situation,” she said.
Martucci said that the complaint was found to be unsubstantiated.
At the time of the alleged incident, the vehicle “was pulling into the Central Transportation Unit parking lot and parked at the time of the alleged incident,” she said. “This would be approximately 20 minutes away from the Route 66 connector.”
• A woman said she observed a Department of Developmental Services-South Region vehicle reportedly “speeding to get into the drive thru line at Wendy's and almost (get) into a collision” on Nov. 18, 2018, on East Main Street in Meriden.
Gerald B. Gore, DDS staff attorney, said via email that the employee was issued a letter of direction and participated in retraining.
• A man said he observed the driver of a DAS Construction Services vehicle reportedly driving without headlights or tail lights in the heavy rain on Nov. 20, 2018 on Interstate 91 south through Cromwell and Route 15 south through Meriden towards Wallingford.
“I got behind the vehicle, and I signaled to the driver to turn on his headlights,” he said. “I passed the driver safely, and he flashed his high-beams at me multiple times before making an obscene gesture with his hand. At this point, the driver still did not turn his headlights on. I then proceeded as normal to my exit. As I was exiting ... the driver passed me and made another obscene gesture.”
Representatives from DAS didn’t return requests for comment on the complaint.
The Record-Journal routinely requests records under the Freedom of Information Act in the interest of contributing to public understanding of local and state government.
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