Safe Ride and DDS work to improve safety, efficiency
This summer, Safe Ride and the Designated Driver Service (DDS) implemented a disciplinary action plan for student drivers who speed. The ability to record driver’s speed comes with the installation of a GPS device in each vehicle.
“The goal is to educate [drivers] and let them have that time frame to correct their behavior,” said Ashley McCrea, the Safe Rides program manager for University of Oregon Police Department. She said that by tracking drivers’ speeds, she hopes to bring more safety and accountability to the program.
McCrea said that employees who exceed the speed limit by 10 miles per hour will receive a verbal warning and reminder of speed limits. If that driver is recorded speeding again, they will receive a written warning.
While disciplinary actions will be discussed on a case-by-case basis, Kelly McIver, the UOPD spokesperson, said that speeding over 20 miles per hour could result in immediate suspension.
University of Oregon Safe Ride drivers were involved in 10 collision incidents and DDS drivers were involved in five during the 2017-18 fiscal year. The collisions included both single and multiple-vehicle incidents.
This was a 50 percent increase from the 2016-17 fiscal year McIver wrote in an email. Additionally, the services hired 33 new drivers, bringing their total from 67 to 100. Ridership also saw a 47 percent increase between the 2017 and 2018 fiscal year.
A reason for the increase in collisions could be that both Safe Ride and DDS expanded the number of vehicles and employees, McIver said.
“More cars, more drivers, more rides can logically lead to an increased chance for collisions,” McIver wrote.
Another factor could be that not every incident was reported prior to 2017, before UOPD began overseeing the programs.
“No number of accidents is acceptable or desirable, and the UO has a responsibility for drivers, riders and the community at large, to operate the programs as safely as possible,” McIver wrote.
Although not all collisions can be attributed to speeding, McCrea said feedback from Safe Ride and DDS passengers indicated that drivers speeding was a concern. As a solution, Safe Ride and DDS vehicles were fitted with GPS devices during the 2017 winter break that allow the program directors to track the speed and location of vehicles.
McIver said all vehicles operated by UOPD have GPS, so the installation of GPS devices was a matter of bringing the Safe Ride and DDS fleet of 11 vehicles up to the rest of the department’s standards.
Since the GPS devices were installed and the disciplinary action plan was put in place, McCrea said speeding has become less frequent. Making drivers aware of their speeds, she said, keeps them defensive, aware and accountable.
In May, the Emerald reported that Safe Ride and DDS expanded their fleet of vehicles to increase the number of rides given to students. Now, McCrea said, the programs are aiming to become more efficient. The GPS devices allow Safe Ride directors to track vehicle mileage and speed to generate a report that can be used to implement better routes or processes in the future.
Safe Ride and DDS are also partnering with UO’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department to create an app that will allow employees to use the data from GPS trackers to become more efficient. Eventually, McCrea said, the goal is to have a user-friendly app to request a ride, but for now the app would be used mainly by employees.
In addition, students can expect to see new decals on Safe Ride and DDS vehicles to make them more easily identifiable. In January, the program requested $13,400 from ASUO for new decals, and although ASUO initially postponed the proposal, it was later accepted.
Correction: The disciplinary action plan was corrected. ASUO postponed a decision on decals, an earlier version of the story said the request was rejected.
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