In the world of Risk Management there are Loss Prevention Strategies and Loss Mitigation Strategies. Usually in trucking we talk about Loss Prevention because if you prevent a loss, it is avoided entirely. However, losses happen and when they do you need a way to keep the loss to a minimum. If you are involved in an accident, here are some steps to take to minimize the loss.
Like the Captain of a ship in a maritime disaster, if you are able, you still have a job to do. First, make the accident site safe as possible. Set out flairs or triangles to warn others of the hazard your accident presents. You don’t want any other vehicles running into the stopped vehicles or people . Check for injured persons. Do not administer first aid or move anyone unless you are trained to do so. However you can provide reasonable assistance.
If no one has, it is time to call 911. I often hear of drivers who lose their cell phones in a crash. I strongly recommend that your cell is on your person at all times. Even when connected to the charger, if possible, keep the phone in its holster in your belt. If you are ever in a rollover you need to be able to reach it without undoing the seat belt to call for help. It you leave it on the dash or in the bunk, there is no telling what you will have to do to find it, assuming that you can move and that the area it is in is still accessible, after an accident.
Never admit that the accident was your fault. This will be hard if you think the accident is your fault and there are injured or aggressive people around. It feels like apologizing and taking the blame is the correct thing to do. However, there may be factors in the accident that you don’t know about. It could be that your feelings, although real are not correct. Any admission of guilt can be used against you in court despite the fact that the physical evidence indicates someone else is at fault.
Also, don’t talk about the accident at the scene to anyone except the police officer. It is important that you don’t because it is hard to determine who you are talking to. An injured victims husband or daughter may have pulled up in another vehicle. If the two of you speak about the accident it could cause aggressive behavior at the scene or again be used against you in court.
Next, if possible, we need to gather some information. Start with the make model and plate of all the vehicles. Next the driver names, license numbers, addresses, and phone numbers. Do the same with passengers and the same with witnesses. Too often drivers come to me after an accident with a policeman business card and a file number saying the policeman has all that information. It is true, they do. However, it may take weeks to get the police report and that will hold up the repair of your truck. Better that you get the information yourself if you can.
Next, take some pictures. We want to record e accident as accurately as possible. Try to take pictures from the center of the accident scene in all four directions. Then take pictures of your vehicle. Try to capture the damage and the position on the roadway. Get some up close for detail and some farther away for perspective. Do the same for each vehicle involved. Don’t forget license plates and when possible the ‘vins’ of cars or the manufacturers plate from trailers. Try to avoid taking pictures of injured people as untreated injuries can often look much worse than they are. Even a small cut can be covered with a great deal of blood. Remember, we are trying to get an accurate sense of the accident scene in pictures and the seriousness of injuries just can’t be accurately captured in a picture at the accident site.
If possible get pictures of the accident site from down the road in each direction. Pictures from about 200 meters and 400 meters would be best to show the landscape and the curves or hills or signage of the road. Lastly, make notes of anything you can think of that might relate to the accident. Your speed, estimate the other drivers speed, many lanes of traffic, how long you were in the same lane, how long had you had been driving since your last break. Anything anybody else said….anything and everything.
In the USA driver must be drug tested after an accident in the following 3 circumstances. Failure to test carries a $5000.00 fine. The easy way to remember the 3 circumstances is Hearse, Nurse or Tow.
Hearse…if there is a fatality… test.
These 2 apply only if the truck driver is charged or likely to be charged.
Nurse –someone is treated for injuries away from the scene test.
Tow-a vehicle is disabled with more than wheel damage and towed from the scene.
Having an accident is an expensive problem. This guide offers several strategies that you can do to minimize the expense of the accident for you, your company and your insurer.
See more articles like this at krdavey.blogspot.ca and see trucking specific safety tips and interactive safety tools at www.safetydriven.ca