The most important part of your drivers’ job is preventing accidents. That means you should do everything you can to reduce accidents and injuries in your non-CDL drivers.
Of course, despite your best efforts, you need to be prepared for the worst. What happens if one of your non-CDL drivers is involved in a collision?
An employee accident means you face the possibility of financial and legal culpability. Not only that, but an accident scene creates added risk of additional accidents and injuries.
We’ll show you how you can prepare your drivers to deal with an accident and what you should do afterwards to make your company safer.
Train Your Drivers on Proper Post-Accident Procedurals
If one of your drivers is involved in an accident, they are likely the only company representative on scene. That means they need to be prepared.
You want your drivers to be able to do two things:
- Reduce the risk of further accidents or injuries at the scene
- Reduce your company’s risk of liability
Reduce Risk of Injury on an Accident Scene
Unfortunately, an accident scene can often increase the risk of another accident happening. There are other vehicles for your driver to worry about while they’re stopped in the middle of the road.
You need your drivers to do a few things to help reduce their risk and other people’s risk of further accidents and injuries:
- Turn on the vehicle’s four-way flashers
- Assess the risk of the situation:
- Risk of fire
- Risk of a second collision
- Environmental risks based on accident location
- If possible, move the vehicle off the road to a safe location
- If it is not possible to move the vehicle, and it is safe to do so, the driver and any passengers should get out of the vehicle and off the road - they need to be as far away from the accident site as possible
Reducing accidents and injuries after a collision is the number one priority. Your drivers should take these steps before doing anything else.
Reducing Company Culpability After an Accident
Before we get into these details, we should make a disclaimer - we are not lawyers and this should not be taken as legal advice. However, we have been involved in the transportation industry for a long time. These are best practices based on the policies of industry-leaders in transportation.
Once the driver is safe, they should take these steps in this order:
- Call the local authorities to report the collision
- If there are passengers, check on them for injuries (do not perform first aid)
- Write down licenses plates of the vehicles involved but avoid talking to the other people involved
- Note the time, place, and situation of the accident
- When the police arrive, cooperate but do not sign any papers or discuss the details of the collision - leave that up to company representatives
These steps will help ensure that the proper legal steps are taken while preventing the driver from incriminating him or herself.
Prevent Future Accidents From Happening
Once an accident happens, there’s nothing you can do to change it. You have to take your lumps. However, as a company, you can learn from the situation and make a plan to prevent future accidents from happening.
After any accident, your company should do several things:
- Make an assessment of what caused the accident
- Make an assessment of who was at fault
- Determine all the factors involved with the accident (unsafe behaviors, unsafe conditions, etc.)
- Take corrective action to prevent future accidents
As you can see, post-accident procedures are involved. Luckily, there are tools out there to help you determine the cause of accidents.
Companies such as SmartDrive and Lytx create event video recorders which will capture video footage of an accident and store it for future viewing. This will allow you or your risk team to determine what specifically caused an accident. The videos can also protect you and your drivers from false claims in a court of law.
However, event video recorders are just one piece of the puzzle. You need a plan for training and coaching your drivers to prevent accidents.
Train Your Drivers to Prevent Accidents
As you collect data from event video recorders, you will likely notice a few things:
- A small amount of accident types make up the majority of your accidents (i.e. rear-end collisions and backing accidents make-up the majority of accidents)
- The same unsafe behaviors lead to the same accidents
- Even if your driver wasn’t at fault, there were actions he or she could have taken to prevent the accident
Essentially, accidents don’t just “happen.” They are caused by people and their unsafe behaviors. And, there are a few unsafe behaviors that are more likely to lead to an accident.
As you collect data, make a list of your most common accidents and what causes them. It might look something like this:
MOST COMMON ACCIDENTS
Following too closely
Backing without a spotter
Fixed object collision
Collision at an intersection
Failure to Look Around before entering intersection
Now, you can take this data and train your drivers to specifically prevent your most common and costly accidents. This is an easy way to have a significant impact on your accident numbers.
An online defensive driving program like The Fleet Safety Course makes it even easier. The Fleet Safety Course is professionally made, cost effective, and covers all of these subjects in detail.
Develop Your Accident Response to Save Lives
An accident response protocol isn’t just bureaucratic red-tape. It’s an important part of preventing future accidents, reducing risk, and protecting your employees.
Train your drivers on proper post-accident procedures. Use event video recorders to study the cause of your accidents. Finally, focus your defensive driving training on your most common and costly accidents.
Following these best practices will help you get closer to the goal of zero accidents.