New York has long been aware of the need to regulate cars and their
drivers. For example, New York City was the site of the first
documented auto accident in US history. This unfortunate event took
place on May 30th, 1896, during a 'horseless carriage race," when a
driver lost control of his vehicle and collided with a bicyclist.
However, the state did not create a separate department to regulate
automobiles until 1959, when the New York Department of Motor Vehicles
was separated out from another government department and given
jurisdiction over registering vehicles and licensing drivers.
Today, the New York DMV still handles those responsibilities, but it
has many others as well. For example, to ensure that New York drivers
are aware of the rules of the road and the theories behind safe
driving, the New York DMV regulates driver’s education classes and
publishes handbooks on state traffic laws. In order to ensure that
unsafe drivers do not continue to endanger others, the DMV maintains
driving records for all New York drivers and takes action against
repeat offenders. The DMV also works to prevent vehicle fraud and
illegal auto sales. Finally, in addition to regulating vehicles and
their drivers, the New York DMV also serves as "one-stop shopping" by
assisting its customers in registering to vote and registering as organ
donors. The New York DMV has also tried to keep up with the times by
making many services available online.