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 February 12, 2010

NEWS

Vehicle operators must meet requirements, follow regulations

Story & Photo by Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Government personnel who use General Services Administration (GSA) vehicles or commercially leased vehicles from the Fort McCoy Transportation Motor Pool (TMP) should treat the vehicles as if they were their own and follow all regulations to ensure their personal safety and the future availability of the vehicles, said Jane Schmidt, Fort McCoy Installation Transportation Officer.

PHOTO:Dennis Diercks of the Fort McCoy Transportation Motor Pool checks tire pressure on a General Services Administration/leased vehicle at the TMP, building 1887. Air compressors at the Fort McCoy MWR Car Wash and the Post Exchange also can be used to check tire pressure on government vehicles outside of TMP hours.
Dennis Diercks of the Fort McCoy Transportation Motor Pool checks tire pressure on a General Services Administration/ leased vehicle at the TMP, building 1887. Air compressors at the Fort McCoy MWR Car Wash and the Post Exchange also can be used to check tire pressure on government vehicles outside of TMP hours.

Schmidt said authorized personnel who drive GSA vehicles must meet all requirements, including having a valid state driver’s license and successfully completing an authorized accident-avoidance course within the past four years. This covers vehicles such as sedans and vans up to 15 passengers. People driving larger vehicles, such as buses or tractor trailers, need commercial driver’s licenses.

“If you’re not sure what the qualifications are, call the dispatchers at the TMP” at 608-388-3616, Schmidt said.

Drivers have a number of responsibilities to fulfill before driving the vehicles, Schmidt said. The first thing they should do is to perform a visual check of the vehicle. This includes walking around a vehicle to ensure there is no obvious damage to the vehicle, tires have sufficient tread and appear to be properly inflated.

Next, operational checks should be performed. This includes inspecting/checking the headlights, directional signals, windshield wipers, brakes, oil levels, etc., to ensure they meet recommended standards and are working properly.

“If you notice something is wrong, report it and get it repaired as soon as possible,” Schmidt said. “We’re dependent on the drivers of the vehicles to maintain them.”

Organizations that have vehicles must complete and submit paperwork as scheduled.  Schmidt said this includes mileage cards, which must be completed each time the vehicle is used. 

The mileage cards are used by TMP to submit mileage to GSA for billing purposes.

“We want people to have vehicles to do their jobs,” Schmidt said. “People need to take care of the vehicles.”

Drivers must follow all federal regulations governing the operation of the GSA vehicles. That includes no smoking in the vehicles. If there is damage, such as burns or the odor of smoke, GSA will bill Transportation for the cleanup, she said. In turn, the cost is billed to the organization using the vehicle.

GSA allows for fair wear and tear on the vehicles.

Anything that exceeds that cost will be billed back to the agency using the vehicle, Schmidt said.

Other regulations that drivers must follow include no use of cell phones (except for hands-free operation) and no texting, the use of seat belts, obeying speed limits, etc.

Schmidt said operators also must not leave their vehicles running unattended or leave personal items, credit cards, log books, keys, etc., in unsecured or unlocked vehicles.

Operators of GSA vehicles usually have only one set of keys so it is impossible to leave the vehicle running and secured if the operator is not in the vehicle. Security concerns dictate that vehicles always are locked when not being used.

Schmidt said these regulations are in effect on and off post, even if the local laws differ from federal laws or regulations.

“If people observe you breaking the federal laws and regulations — on or off post — and you’re reported, it will be forwarded to your supervisor,” Schmidt said.

Organizations that do not follow regulations may see the availability of their vehicles affected, she said.

Personnel can check tire air pressure of government vehicles at an air pump located at the TMP complex, building 1887 from 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. weekdays. Visit the TMP front desk to use the equipment.

The TSP also has a vacuum and car wash facility for government vehicles.

For more information about GSA vehicle operation, call 608-388-3616.

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