Things are going great for your company. You’re meeting deadlines, making revenue goals, and growing your team. It’s easy to develop an attitude that the worst won’t happen. But the road is a dangerous place. Driving a commercial truck is, at times, like maneuvering an obstacle course. Even when you take steps to keep your drivers safe, accidents happen. The best thing you can do is to prepare. Besides checking that you have sufficient, trustworthy insurance, prepare your drivers. Make sure they know how to respond in this rare but highly stressful situation.
Prevention is Best
Preventing accidents should be your motto, no matter who’s at fault, a scratch or fatality. Discuss with drivers ways to stay alert on the road and not take unnecessary risks. Provide drivers with a 24-hour first point of contact list at your company.
Truckers are often in a rush to meet a deadline, and this can result in pushing themselves to drive past their limits. Truck drivers might think they are capable of operating with little sleep, but the DOT found that 87% of trucker-caused crashes were due to driver fatigue. Make sure your drivers adhere to FMCSA regulations by driving a maximum of 11 hours after ten consecutive work days, and 10 hours after eight straight hours off-duty.
Another major contributor to all auto accidents is cell phone usage. Set and routinely explain policies prohibiting cell phone use while driving. Include other distractions, too, like eating on the road.
In Case of an Accident
Everything that happens following an accident, such as dealing with insurance, is easier if your drivers react appropriately. Here are steps to request of your drivers if they get in an accident.
Keep calm and turn on your hazards. Take a deep breath and do not move. While mentally assessing the situation, remind yourself that you are a professional and still representing your company.
- Do not admit fault! You may want to say, “I’m sorry” even when you did nothing wrong, but this could be used against you in court.
- Do not move. Leave your truck at the crash site unless police instruct you otherwise. Also, never purposefully park the truck as a barricade in any situation.
- Put out reflectors as soon as you’re able. One reflector goes 10 feet behind the vehicle and a second 100 feet behind.
- Call 911. If you cannot operate your phone, ask multiple people to get help. Do not rely on one person who says they are going to get help.
- Collect information. Don’t focus on this step too much, as it can be seen as coercion if excessive or aggressive. Get the name, address, and phone number of any witnesses. At minimum, take a photo or write down license plate numbers of involved vehicles.
- Call the company. Report what happened clearly, accurately, and without defensiveness. They will likely contact the insurance company for you.
- Take photos. Capture as many images as you can of the accident and damage to either your truck or another vehicle. Also, include skid marks or vehicle positions, signals, and anything that may deem useful. A smartphone is great for this as it timestamps the images.
It’s up to your company to decide whether or not to provide first aid training. It would seem very reasonable and responsible if you do, especially in a courtroom. If you do, be sure to provide proper training and first-aid kits.
Other Tips for Truck Drivers
After ensuring everyone involved is safe and unharmed, and taking care of the above necessary steps, it’s a good idea to check your cargo. If you were hauling anything dangerous, get the road flares out sooner than later to keep traffic from harm.
Cooperate with any police officers at the scene. Agree to blood and alcohol tests if they ask. If you were operating by the law and, depending on the severity of the accident, you shouldn’t have to worry about losing your CDL, but may require review.
Make sure your drivers and trucks are covered and secure. Call Brooker Transportation Agency at 440-238-5454 for comprehensive truck insurance, as well as; bus, motor coach, limousine, charter and tour company, school bus, public transit, and more.