More than 900 complaints have been filed with the State of Connecticut about the driving habits of government employees operating state-issued vehicles. NBC Connecticut Investigates recently obtained the complaints filed between 2016 and 2018.
"I feel like anyone who's driving on the clock, especially, should be paying attention," said Sarah Scully of Groton.
Scully said she was driving on a busy street in New London last summer when a state worker cut her off - twice. Scully was one of the many Connecticut motorists who have complained about the driving habits of someone behind the wheel of a state-issued vehicle.
"I noticed that it was like a state licensed plate, so I was like 'they should be paying attention to the signs,'" said Scully, who later wrote down the license plate number of the silver Chevrolet and reported it to the state.
Since January 2016, there have been 915 complaints filed with the state about its drivers. The complaints included incidents of texting while driving, speeding, parking illegally and using a vehicle for non-work related activity.
"It's not appropriate for any driver to be texting or parking illegally or even speeding or doing any of those things," said Toni Fatone, deputy commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services, which maintains the state's 3,570 vehicle fleet.
"We're investigating every single complaint to ensure that what we're doing what we can so that it doesn't happen again," she said.
Fatone said not every complaint can be verified by the state, and some state agencies received more complaints than others.
The Department of Correction (DOC) had 48 complaints. The Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) received 72. The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) received 102 complaints. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) had 424 complaints about employees in state-issued vehicles.
Fatone said the number of DCF-related complaints is in direct correlation to the number of vehicles that the agency has in service, which is 688.
"They are on the road all hours of the day and night going out to investigate abusive situation in communities throughout the state," said Fatone.
Chris Blanch of Montville said he was traveling on Route 9 south and saw a state-issued vehicle that would not leave the passing lane. He said the driver was also using his phone and speeding.
"How ignorant or foolish do you have to be in a state vehicle 'parked' in the left lane, which is typical New England, texting and driving at 85 with a bumper sticker that says 'hey, how's my driving?'," Blanch said.
When he returned home, Chris went online (HYPERLINE: Fleet.CT.gov ) to report what he said he saw.
According to state policy (HYPERLINK: https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/DAS/Fleet-Operations/DAS-GL-115.pdf?la=enemployees ), state government employees who are the subject of two or more valid complaints in six months can face disciplinary action up to and including termination. The policy was last updated in April 2012.
In the four years Fatone has been at the Department of Administrative Services, she said no one lost their job because of a violation of the policy for motor vehicles used for state business
"We want the public to be our partner in insuring everyone is being a safe driver," said Fatone. She added that agencies that received the most driver complaints, such as DCF, have become more proactive with employee training and have seen a decline in the number of complaints this year compared to 2016 and 2017.