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Ulster County-owned vehicle accidents in 2012

Ulster County-owned vehicle accidents in 2012

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Published by Daily Freeman
Report issued by Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach
Report issued by Ulster County Comptroller Elliott Auerbach

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Published by: Daily Freeman on Jul 13, 2013
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07/14/2013

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Elliott Auerbach, Comptroller 244 Fair Street, 5
th
Floor Kingston, New York (845) 331-8774
Office of the Ulster County Comptroller 
VEHICLE ACCIDENTS
BY THE NUMBERS 
 ___________________________ _______________________ _________ __
July 11, 2013
____
The County’s Vehicle Flee
In April 2013, our Office issued a report entitled “County Useof Take Home Vehicles.” The report noted that the Countyowned a fleet of 318 vehicles at the time of the conclusion of our field investigation, and identified that of those vehicles, 82were designated as “take-home,” at a cost to the County of approximately $369,000, which did not include the cost of damages to vehicles caused by accidents. The present report provides an overview of those costs.
Data on Accidents Involving County Vehicles 
During 2012, 65 County vehicles were involved in 79accidents. These accidents resulted in damages ranging fromsuperficial scratches to accidents in which cars were totaled.There were three accidents that were not accurately reportedas defined in the Standard Operating Procedures (“SOP”) for the County. According to the SOP, when an employee isinvolved in an accident, regardless of the severity, the accidentmust be reported immediately to the Ulster County SafetyOffice, Central Auto, and the Insurance Department. Duringthis review it was found that three of the 79 accidents wereinaccurately reported. These three accidents were all reportedto the Safety Office. However, none of them were reported tothe Insurance Department, and one was not reported to CentralAuto.Although this failure rate is a relatively low 4%, it is pointedout to emphasize the importance of inter-departmentalcommunication, especially in circumstances where the Countycould be held liable for damages.
 
What Departments Were Involved in Accidents
Table #1
summarizes the number of accidents by theadministrative unit involved. The table indicates thatHighway & Bridges, the Sheriff’s Office, and UCAT wereinvolved in 63 of the accidents, or 80% of the total. Thenumber of accidents within these units likely correlates to thefact that these units are responsible for covering the entireCounty of Ulster for road maintenance, patrol, or transportation, on a daily basis, in a County which isequivalent in size to the State of Rhode Island.
What do These Accidents Cost the Taxpayers oUlster County? 
Table #2
shows the breakdown of the costs associated withthe 79 accidents, totaling $136,785. This amount includes four vehicles which were deemed totaled, the cost of whichamounted to $92,389. Excluding the four totaled vehicles, theaverage cost per accident amounted to $592.
How Many Accidents Involved a Take-Home Vehicle? 
The review identified five accidents involving a take-homevehicle where the driver was at fault, costing $26,236, or 19%of the total accident costs. When added to the approximatecost of take-home vehicles previously reported, the cost to theCounty totals over $395,000.
How Many Accidents Involved Repeat Offenders
The analysis revealed there were six employees involved inmultiple accidents, costing the County $35,415.
How Much Money is Recoverable through UlsteCounty’s Insurance Policy? 
Ulster County pays $193,587 per year for a vehicle insurance policy which has a $25,000 per accident deductible. Thisamount also includes liability coverage in the event of alawsuit. This coverage is subject to a $75,000 deductible andapplies to indemnity payments or payments made for injuriessustained in an accident. However, defense costs are outside of the deductible. The County Insurance Department isresponsible for all accidents under the $25,000 policydeductible, excluding a $1,000 departmental deductiblereimbursable to the Insurance Department. This means thedepartment involved in the accident is liable for the first$1,000 in damages, and the County Insurance Department willcover the remaining balance of damages up to $25,000. Noaccidents during this review period triggered payment by theCounty’s third party insurance carrier, as all accidents in thereview period resulted in damages less than $25,000.Therefore, these repair expenses were paid via tax dollars.Highway trucks and equipment are subject to a lower deductible of $1,000 under an Inland Marine insurance policy.Thus, the department is responsible for a $1,000 deductible for 

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