All fleet managers know that accidents can happen, but are you prepared for when they do? Do you know what to do to prevent any unseen ramifications for your company or for your driver?
Briefing your drivers on exactly what to do and what details to record at the time of an incident can dramatically reduce the cost of an accident. What’s more, additional costs can be saved by ensuring that repairs are carried out as quickly as possible, so income is not lost from one of your vehicles being off the road.
There are so many things to consider at the time of a collision that many companies will hire a specialist accident management firm. But if you prefer to handle these eventualities in-house, here’s the right protocol to follow if one of your drivers is involved in any kind of collision.
Immediate and Accurate Reporting of an Incident
All fleet managers should have a company-wide policy in place that lays out how accidents should be reported. It is up to you to ensure that all drivers are aware of this policy. The best way to achieve this is to make it a key part of the induction process for new drivers, as well as including it in the drivers’ handbook so that they can refer to it when necessary.
The most important thing is that drivers report the incident to the relevant manager as soon as it has occurred, as it is only safe and reasonable to do so. The manager who receives the call should then record all required details while they are fresh in the driver’s mind.
Important questions that the manager should ask include:
· How many hours the driver has been on the road
· When they last had a break
· What the weather conditions are like
· Details of any witnesses
· Whether the vehicle is drivable
It is also a good idea to encourage your drivers to take photographs at the scene to substantiate their report. Key photographs should focus on vehicle damage, road markings, number plates, the positioning of the vehicles on the road, and potentially even the other driver.
Telematics can be used to fill in some of the details of an accident, such as the vehicle’s speed at the time of the collision.
Of course, for fleet managers the accident doesn’t end at the scene. It is part of their role to manage the third party and ensure that claims are accurate and fair. Having a full incident report (as above) will help enormously to prevent any fraudulent or exaggerated claims.
Since there are so many solicitors and accident-chasing companies around today, it’s always worth a fleet managers’ time to make sure that the third party is happy, and feels that you are doing your bit to resolve the issues quickly. This will hopefully prevent them from pursuing legal advice, which could prove expensive for your company.
Every day a vehicle is off the road costs you money, so make sure that you manage the repairs efficiently. Choose a garage that has all of the required parts in stock, and chase mechanics to check that repairs are being carried out within the agreed timescale.
Analyse the Data
It’s always worth having a look at your data to see if there is any commonality in the accidents that you’re dealing with. Is one driver more accident-prone than another? What types of accidents are being recorded? What were the weather and road conditions like at the time?
Analysing your data could present ways of preventing accidents before they happen, which is certain to save you and your company both time and money.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry providing services for matching jobs in road transport within the haulage industry. For drivers, fleet managers or anyone looking for a service to transport goods, Haulage Exchange connects professionals across the UK and Europe. Over 4,500 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.