Road mishaps are always a possibility. And no matter how meticulously you lay out your safety policies, accidents can still occur. Statistics show that almost 5,000 large trucks were involved in a fatal road accident in the United States in 2020. The numbers may be higher for smaller-sized commercial vehicles such as vans or mini trucks.
Commercial vehicles travel 15,000 to 60,000 miles annually, giving them a higher risk of accidents and crashes. Hence, fleet managers and owners must be prepared, whether it’s a fender bender with your service van or a fatal Amazon truck accident.
They should know what to do if one of their commercial vehicles becomes involved in an accident.
In this article, you’ll learn five steps to take when your fleet driver is involved in an accident.
1. Check On Your Driver
Businesses should prioritize the safety of their drivers over the replacement or maintenance cost of their commercial vehicles. The best employers and managers care for their employee’s well-being above all things.
If you’re notified of an accident involving your fleet vehicle, you must check on your driver and their passengers as soon as possible. Inquire about any wounds or injuries they may have and their well-being. You should encourage them to see a doctor right away. Not only does it help ensure their health, but it’s also critical for insurance and HR documents.
2. Inform Your Driver What To Do
Once you know your driver is safe, you can focus on the accident. Your fleet driver personally experienced the accident. If they’re still on site, calmly instruct them on what to do at the scene to avoid issues later. It would be best if you have an accident policy kit in the glove compartment of each commercial vehicle.
A policy booklet should detail the steps to follow in various accident scenarios. If you haven’t got one yet, it helps to give detailed instructions to your drivers while on the accident site. First, ask your driver to call the police for a proper investigation. In addition, tell them to call for emergency medical assistance to treat any injured person on site.
Furthermore, you should instruct your driver to take pictures and videos of the scene. These include the other vehicles involved and the surrounding area where the accident occurred. Photo and video evidence can help in determining liability and assessing property damage.
You can also ask them to talk to the other driver and exchange contact information. If they see any witnesses, you can tell your driver to speak with them and ask for their contact information.
Instructing your drivers not to admit or deny their mistakes is essential. Admitting wrongdoing without solid proof can hurt your business if the situation ends in court.
3. Prepare An Accident Report Form
An accident report form is a critical document that can help streamline the process of managing fleet vehicle accidents and insurance claims. Generally, an accident report form should contain the following details:
- The names and contact numbers of your driver and their passenger,
- The names and contact numbers of other parties involved in the accident
- Information about the vehicle
- Injuries and property damage
- Police reports and witness details
- A written description of the accident
- Photos or videos that show the accident
These are the basics to include in the accident report form, but you can add more depending on your needs. Alternatively, some fleet management software and apps feature a mobile accident a form that allows drivers to input the necessary information regarding the accident.
4. Be Ready For Potential Claims
In the event of an accident resulting in personal injury or property damage, it helps to prepare for potential claims. Hence, it would be best to call your insurance company and inform them about the accident as soon as possible.
You can report the accident to your commercial insurance carrier right away. This can help determine the underlying cause of the collision and ensure proper compensation for the accident.
Also, it’s necessary to inform your workers' compensation insurer to help manage claims effectively.
5. Coordinate Repairs
After an accident, your driver and the commercial vehicle will be out of operation for a while, giving unnecessary downtime for your business. To minimize downtime, it’s essential to facilitate your commercial vehicle’s repair as soon as possible. Call several automotive shops and start comparing estimates.
While your vehicle is under repair, you should coordinate alternative transportation until it’s ready. Meanwhile, if the vehicle can no longer be repaired, it’s best to arrange a replacement immediately. This is also an excellent opportunity to upgrade your fleet vehicles. Hence, it may be a good time to purchase your company’s first autonomous car.
If there’s one thing you need to be prepared for as a fleet manager, it’s how to handle a fleet vehicle accident. While dealing with a fleet vehicle accident can be daunting, following the above steps can help you navigate the situation more carefully. In addition, these steps can protect your drivers’ and your business’s interests.