California DMV x2019 s Research and Development Branch Turns 50

California Department of Motor Vehicles
Media Relations Office
2415 First Avenue, MS F-122, Sacramento, CA 95818
Contact: DMV Media Relations

October 14, 2009

Sacramento —The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) announced today the 50th anniversary of its Research and Development Branch.  Unique among state motor vehicle departments, California DMV’s research efforts have been recognized nationally for the quality, breadth and importance of its work.

“An important goal of the California DMV is to enhance the safety of motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists,” said DMV Director George Valverde. “The department’s research branch has contributed to that effort by developing, implementing and evaluating new traffic safety programs, and evaluating the success of traffic laws and countermeasures.”

DMV researchers have written numerous studies that identify which sanctions and treatments work best to reduce drunk and drugged driving.  Examples include studies that identified the salutary impact of DUI programs and driver license restriction/suspension and other studies which examined the degree to which ignition interlock devices control drunk driving. The most recent report on Ignition Interlocks, An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Ignition Interlocks in California, is located in the research summaries, studies and reports section of the DMV Web site.

The 2009 DUI Management Information Systems (MIS) report produced by DMV is an important source used by district attorneys, judges, DUI program providers, law enforcement and others to track DUI arrests, convictions, sanctions and trends.

With much of its work funded by traffic safety grants, DMV studies have saved the State of California millions of dollars by streamlining operations and modifying or eliminating ineffective programs. For example, a study conducted in 1973 led to the department discontinuing road tests for applicants who had been previously licensed in another state. A DMV study found no evidence that waiving the road test resulted in a negative traffic safety impact. Since 1974, the policy change eliminated more than 4.5 million drive tests that resulted in $43 million in cost savings to taxpayers.

One way that DMV’s work contributes to safety is through helping develop and evaluate the department’s written knowledge tests and road tests to ensure they are reliable and valid.

Established in 1959, the department’s research and development branch also evaluates licensing programs for teens such as California’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. Two studies currently underway examine GDL in California, and throughout the country.  The national study is due out by the end of this year, while the California study will be available in the spring of 2010.

Finally, DMV’s research team evaluates programs conducted both by the department and outside entities to reduce the risk posed by problem drivers, such as traffic violator schools or DMV’s Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS).  The latter program, which assigns progressively stronger treatments to drivers who accumulate points due to traffic violations or crashes, is the subject of Research and Developments most recent evaluation report, “The Enhanced Negligent Operator Treatment Evaluation System.”

The California Legislature has found the DMV’s Research and Development Branch’s research and findings to be an extremely useful tool in guiding future legislative efforts of safe driving in California.

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Don’t Stand In Line, Go Online! Doing business with the DMV has never been easier. The DMV offers an array of services to customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week through its Web site (, including online appointments for written and drive tests; vehicle registration and driver license renewals, selection of personalized license plates, changes of address and payment of fees via secure debit transactions. Customers can also effect transactions via the telephone by calling (800) 921-1117. For registration and driver license renewals, customers must have their six-digit Renewal Identification Number (RIN) that accompanies their renewal. Automated services are also available at (800) 777-0133.

DMV is a department under the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency, which is under the direction of Secretary Dale E. Bonner. The DMV licenses drivers; maintains driving records; registers and tracks official ownership of vehicles and vessels; investigates auto and identity-related fraud; and licenses car dealers, driving schools, and traffic violator schools.


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