November 2012, Automotive Fleet - Feature
Employees driving company vehicles must abide by fleet policy at all times, especially in the event of an accident. One of the first things to do following an accident is to make sure the damage stays as minimal as possible by controlling the scene so a follow-up accident doesn’t occur.
There is no guarantee even the most skilled and experienced driver can avoid a collision. Despite evasive actions that might minimize the effects of a collision, accidents happen. Drivers must be prepared to respond appropriately and effectively. Being prepared can minimize physical and mental suffering, loss of time, legal problems, and expenses often associated with a collision. Knowing what to do in case of an accident can often mean the difference between life and death.
Fleet managers must make sure all employees driving on company business — and especially in a company vehicle — are fully aware of what steps to take in the event they are involved in an accident.
Don’t Panic and Stay Focused
There are three things to remember after an accident: Don’t panic, think of what must be done in logical order, and get help as soon as possible.
Drivers involved in an accident must be aware that the accident scene may have the potential of causing another accident. However, some jurisdictions require vehicles remain in place after an incident occurs. In any case, the driver must safely control the accident scene to prevent other traffic from colliding with the damaged vehicles.
Have drivers warn approaching traffic of the incident in either direction, or assign someone to do so. If the vehicles are disabled, set out warning flares and turn on emergency flashers and lights.
After setting up warnings, if the vehicles cannot be moved (either because they are disabled or due to the law requiring they remain in place) it is important to get as far away from the vehicles as possible. This is especially true if low visibility or heavy traffic conditions are present.
If regulations permit it, move the vehicles out of the traffic flow, making sure to note, and if possible photograph, their original locations for the accident report.
Contact the Authorities
Under all circumstances, the police must be called as soon as possible. The police may indicate when and if an officer will arrive. Be patient and follow their instructions.
Under some circumstances, such as non-injury and a low-dollar repair estimate to the vehicles, the officer may direct the driver to go directly to the police station to file a report. Drivers should carefully note all instructions given and obtain the name and badge number of the officer, either at the scene or on the phone.
Paramedics or an ambulance must be called immediately for anyone injured in the collision. Injured persons should not be moved unnecessarily, as doing so may increase the severity of their injuries.
If the collision involves an unattended vehicle, the owner must be notified. If that is not immediately possible, a note should be attached to the vehicle with the driver’s contact information. Police should be notified immediately and be informed of the steps the driver has taken.