“Flood cars” imported to Washington risk public safety

November 12, 2015

OLYMPIA—Expect the impact of killer floods in Texas and king tides in South Carolina to spread beyond those regional economies as thousands of flood damaged vehicles find their way into other states, including Washington.

While it’s not necessarily illegal to sell a salvaged “flood car,” some sellers are unaware of the vehicle’s true history or wouldn’t disclose it if they did. So, it’s up to the consumer to be vigilant when car shopping.

The first step every consumer should take when they find a vehicle is to check its identification number (VIN). The National Insurance Crime Bureau’s VINCheck service is free, but may not be as comprehensive as a service like Carfax. And, neither is a defense against purchasing an unreported flood car or one with an altered title.

Flood damage can be hard to spot on a vehicle that has been pulled from floodwaters and thoroughly cleaned. They look like any other vehicle, but are a significant risk to public safety because of compromised electronic and mechanical systems.

Dirty floodwater causes rust and damages major mechanical parts and onboard computers that are often located under seats or in other low points in vehicles.

These tips can help to spot potential flood-damaged vehicles:

  • Before buying any used car, always get a pre-purchase inspection by a trusted mechanic. The extra cost may save money in the long run if major problems are discovered.
  • Ask to see the title of a used car. Check the date and place of transfer to see if the car came from a flood-damaged state and if the title is stamped “salvage.
  • Use an online vehicle history tracking service like Carfax.com to get more information about a vehicle’s past.
  • Check all gauges on the dashboard to make sure they are accurate, and to look for signs of water.
  • Test the lights, windshield wipers, turn signals, cigarette lighter, radio, heater and air conditioner several times to make sure they work. Also, flex some wires under the dash to see if they bend or crack, since wet wires become brittle upon drying and can crack or fail at any time.
  • Check the trunk, glove compartment, and beneath the seats and dash for signs of mud, rust or water damage.
  • Look for discolored, faded or stained upholstery and carpeting. Carpeting that has been replaced may fit too loosely or may not match the interior color.
  • Check for a well-defined line, or watermark, and for musty odors resulting from mildew.
  • If the car’s history seems suspicious, ask the seller if the car has been damaged by floodwater. Get the answer in writing on the bill of sale.

The playlist below features two videos that address how to identify possible signs of a flood damaged vehicle.

The facts about REAL ID compliance and Washington state

October 30, 2015

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently informed Washington state of their decision to deny our request for a compliance extension for REAL ID requirements. This means starting as early as January 2016, standard Washington state driver licenses and ID cards may no longer be accepted as a standalone identity document at some secure federal facilities. This does not affect commercial airline travel at this point. The Department of Licensing has issued Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards since 2008. These will continue to be federally acceptable documents and can be obtained by Washington residents who are U.S. citizens.

Even under REAL ID, most services provided by the federal government do not require identification to be presented, and that will not change. Washington residents who do not have a federally compliant document will still have access to federal courts, Social Security offices, national parks, and, at this time, boarding flights at commercial airports.

At some point in the future, Washington residents who do not have a federally compliant document will need to use an approved second form of ID with their standard Washington driver license/ID card for boarding domestic commercial airline flights. DHS has indicated that they will announce “the timing and nature” of enforcement for commercial airlines in December, 2015 and that the date will be at least four months from that time. They have provided no further information to states.

It is important to remember that this change will not have significant impacts on typical Washington residents at this time. Most residents don’t regularly visit the secured areas of federal facilities. Washingtonians are encouraged to investigate all of their options for obtaining a federally compliant document like a U.S. Passport/Passport Card, state Enhanced Driver License/ID card, or other ID documents (see below) that will be acceptable by federal agencies to enter secure federal facilities. This includes nuclear power plants, military facilities and other facilities that require ID to enter.

  • Washington is among 24 states that have been operating with a REAL ID compliance extension because our regular driver licenses and ID cards do not meet all 41 different REAL ID requirements. DHS denied our state’s request for another compliance extension which makes our state subject to the REAL ID enforcement schedule. This means our regular driver licenses and ID cards may no longer be accepted at certain secure federal facilities and nuclear power plants – the Department of Homeland Security has not announced a specific date for enforcement to begin at commercial airports.
  • State law currently prohibits the expenditure of state funds to comply with the REAL ID Act. See RCW 46.20.191 and 43.41.390.
  • The Department of Homeland Security compliance schedule indicates REAL ID requirements may be enforced at commercial airports any time after December 31, 2015. However, the exact date remains unknown and at whatever point they announce the date, there will be at least 4-months between the announcement and the date the commercial airport requirements will take effect. DHS has been unclear about specific dates.
  • Since 2008, Washington state has issued Enhanced Driver Licenses and Enhanced ID Cards that federal officials have certified for use as proof of identity for federal purposes. These documents can be used for any purpose a REAL ID compliant license can be used for and have the additional benefit of being an acceptable form of identification at U.S. land and sea border crossing stations in the Western Hemisphere. They are available to U.S. citizens.
  • Over the past several years, DOL has met many of the REAL ID requirements (21 out of 42) just by adopting national best practices for driver license and ID card security—things we would have done regardless of the REAL ID Act. In addition, we will meet several more of the REAL ID requirements once we move to a new driver license and ID card central issuance system in 2017. Many of the REAL ID requirements will be costly for the state to comply with.
  • Additional forms of identification acceptable for federal purposes include:
    • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
    • U.S. military ID (active duty or retired military and their dependents, and DoD civilians)
    • Permanent resident card
    • Border crossing card
    • Airline or airport-issued ID (if issued under a TSA-approved security plan)
    • Federally recognized, tribal-issued photo ID
    • HSPD-12 PIV card
    • Foreign government-issued passport
    • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
    • Transportation worker identification credential

Protecting Teen Drivers with 5 simple rules

October 16, 2015

5-to-drive-1National Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 18-24, and the Washington State Patrol, Washington Traffic Safety Commission, numerous partners around the state, and the Department of Licensing want to encourage parents to use the “5 to Drive” rules to talk to their teen drivers about safety on the road.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for teens and young adults. In 2014, there were 530 serious injury crashes and 147 fatalities among Washington drivers between the ages of 16 and 25.

“Young drivers need extra support and parents can help reduce the risk of a crash by insisting teens follow our state’s intermediate driver licensing requirements and insisting on safe driving behavior,” said Pat Kohler, DOL Director. “We’re promoting the ‘5 to Drive’ rules as a simple, common sense way parents can keep teen drivers safe.”

Parents can easily ask their teens to agree to the following “5 to Drive” rules before handing over their car keys:

“Distracted and impaired driving can be prevented,” said Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste. “This is an opportunity for parents to act as positive role models and talk to their teenagers about these simple steps to prevent tragedies before they occur.”

For more information about Teen Driver Safety Week and the “5 to Drive” campaign, please visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website at: www.safercar.gov/parents. It has detailed information and statistics, and informative videos designed to help save the lives of teen drivers.

The video below is from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s YouTube channel. This video shows us why it’s important for parents to talk to their teens about this important issue.

New “Training is Everything” videos highlight importance of continued motorcycle training

October 1, 2015

The Washington Motorcycle Safety Program is proud to announce the release of a powerful new public safety video, Training is Everything. This seven minute video, filled with stunning cinematography and powerful interviews, presents a compelling case for all riders to sign up for initial and continued motorcycle training.

The video features motorcycle riders, an elite Army Apache helicopter pilot, champion hydroplane racer Chip Hanauer, rugby players from Seattle Slam, and motorcycle safety specialists. Within it they discuss the importance of training and how the physical and mental skills required to fly combat helicopters, race hydroplanes, and even compete in rugby compare to those required to ride motorcycles.  Pilots, race drivers, and athletes train constantly to be on their game. By doing the same, riders—whether novices or experienced, year-round riders or summer cruisers—can both ride more safely and get more out of themselves and their bikes.

A scene from "Training is Everything." a powerful new public safety video stressing the importance of continued motorcycle training.

A scene from “Training is Everything,” a new public safety video series stressing the importance of continued motorcycle training.

Accompanying the full-length version of the video are two 30-second public service announcements to use as further tools to speak to riders about the main messages of the film—that a large percentage of rider fatalities are, in fact, caused by the riders themselves. By training for the physical and mental art that is motorcycling, riders can get the most from their ride, get home safely, and then go ride more.

Training is Everything, filmed by Twisted Scholar, was made possible through a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Training is everything when you fly, when you race, and when you compete, and training is everything when you ride.

*please note: All three videos in the Training is Everything series are featured in the playlist at the top of this post.

Rider’s cross-country trek promoting motorcycle safety reaches Olympia

July 27, 2015
Nate Hudson and DOL Director Pat Kohler holding a copy of the video, "A Second Look," in Olympia on July 23.

Nate Hudson and DOL Director Pat Kohler holding a copy of the video, “A Second Look,” in Olympia on July 23.

Motorcyclist Nate Hudson is logging 17,000 miles during the course of the “Ride for Awareness” campaign, sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company.

On July 23, Hudson’s journey reached Olympia, where he spoke with Department of Licensing Director Pat Kohler.

Hudson praised Washington state’s efforts to protect riders on the roads, including the DOL’s video,  A Second Look.

The video addresses the role of motorists concerning motorcycle safety.

For more information about the Ride for Awareness campaign, visit Allstate.com/ride.

And for regular updates on Hudson’s whereabouts as he travels the country, checkout Instagram.com/BA_Moto.

Washington state to be recognized for its motorcycle safety efforts

July 20, 2015

Photo taken at site of a Motorcycle Skills Test.

A lone motorcycle rider is crossing the country to visit all 50 states to spread awareness about the important role motorists play in protecting motorcycle riders.

Nate Hudson first rode a motorcycle at age 16. That was 20 years–and 200,000 miles–ago.

Hudson’s now about to log 17,000 more miles during the course of the “Ride for Awareness” campaign, sponsored by Allstate Insurance Company.

Hudson will stop in Olympia on Thursday, July 23, to talk about motorcycle safety and promote Washington state’s efforts to protect riders on the roads.

According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, there 1,934 motorcycle accidents in 2013, resulting in 73 fatalities. The state reports that in 2013 a motorcyclist was in a crash every four hours.

For more information about the Ride for Awareness campaign, visit Allstate.com/ride.

And for regular updates on Hudson’s whereabouts as he travels the country, checkout Instagram.com/BA_Moto.

The Department of Licensing’s video, A Second Look, directly addresses the role of motorists concerning motorcycle safety.

That video appears below.

Washington CDL holders must soon prove citizenship or permanent residency

June 30, 2015
truck-busOLYMPIA—Starting Sept. 1, 2015, anyone seeking a commercial driver license (CDL) or commercial learner permit (CLP) in Washington will be required to prove they are a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident.
This new law does not affect anyone’s ability to get or retain a regular driver license. Commercial drivers are not required to present this proof until their next CDL or CLP renewal or other transaction that requires a change to their record, including name, address, and endorsement changes.
Drivers with an enhanced personal driver license or enhanced commercial driver license issued in Washington before Sept. 1, 2015, are not required to again prove their lawful permanent residency or U.S. citizenship.
This new requirement is due to the state’s mandatory compliance with federal law and one aspect of a broad public safety effort around CDLs that brings Washington into line with the national standard.
Starting Sept. 1, commercial drivers must visit one of 28 designated offices to complete their CDL or CLP transaction because of the special resources needed to verify documents. The full list of designated office locations can be found at dol.wa.gov/cdlchanges.
Commercial drivers should have one of the six approved documents in their possession before arriving at a designated licensing office, including:
·         Valid U.S. Passport or Passport Card issued by the U.S. Department of State;
·         Birth certificate issued by a state or local government. A hospital-issued “Certificate of Live Birth” is not acceptable;
·         Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State;
·         Certificate of Naturalization issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services;
·         Certificate of Citizenship issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services;
·         Permanent Resident Card or “Green Card” issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Obtaining duplicate documents can take several weeks. Commercial drivers are encouraged to begin the process immediately if they do not currently have at least one in their possession. Photocopies will not be accepted. The Department of Licensing (DOL) will be unable to complete CDL or CLP transactions of those drivers who are unable to provide one of the approved documents.
Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency is not required to replace a lost, damaged, or stolen card.
More information is available online at dol.wa.gov/cdlchanges or by calling the Washington Department of Licensing Driver Customer Service line at 360-902-3900.


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