Despite the best laid plans of iron-clad fleet safety policies, accidents will happen, and commercial drivers need to know what to do when the time comes.
The annual accident rate for commercial fleets has reached 20% and some industries, such as pharmaceuticals, are even higher.
The average non-fleet motorist in the U.S. travels 12,000 to 15,000 miles annually, and each year has a one in 15 chance of being involved in a vehicle collision. Most fleet drivers, however, travel 20,000 to 25,000 miles or more each year.
It’s simple math: The more miles on the road, the greater exposure to crash risk.
Whether it is a fender bender or a fatal collision, commercial drivers need to know what steps to take immediately following an accident. It's incumbent upon fleet managers to set an official policy of post-collision best practices.
Your accident kit policy should be kept in the glove compartment of each company provided vehicle, and it should detail the steps to follow at the scene of the accident.
The following are some guidelines offered by an industry-leading fleet manager to help shape an effective policy for your drivers:
- Don't move the vehicle unless it is in the way of traffic. If necessary, move the vehicle away from traffic.
- In the case of injury to an occupant of either vehicle or an injury to a pedestrian, make sure you call for medical assistance immediately.
- Always call the police in the event of an accident, regardless of damage or location of incident.
- Obtain the home and business addresses and phone numbers of all passengers and witnesses.
- Obtain the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of the other driver, passengers, and witnesses. Additionally, record the color, year, make, model, VIN, and license plate number of the vehicles involved.
- Note the seating location of each person in the vehicles.
- Get the name of the other driver’s insurance company and policy number.
- Write down the time, place of accident, direction of vehicles, road conditions, and weather.
- Closely examine the damage to the other vehicle and make notes on the accident report. Take photos of the scene and damages (if a camera is available).
- Assess the extent of injuries to others, if any. Record the names of medical personnel involved.
- Make no statements regarding who was at fault, even to the police. All the facts of the accident must be determined before fault can be defined.
- Provide the following information to the police and include it on the accident report: vehicle owner, insured, liability insurance (from the current insurance card in the glove box of the vehicle), and policy number (from the current insurance card in the glove box of the vehicle).
- Remove all items from the vehicle before towing. Call for assistance if you need help removing items from your vehicle.
Nearly 38,800 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. in 2015 and additional 4.4 million were seriously injured. Moreover, traffic fatalities increased 6% in 2016, reaching an estimated 40,200 deaths, according to the National Safety Council.
As a fleet manager, it is imperative to provide a culture and policies that keep your drivers as safe as possible while on the road. However, preparing for the worst — by developing a comprehensive accident policy — is equally crucial.