Unfortunately, collisions are part and parcel of delivery work. As all fleet managers know, accidents do happen. The most important thing is being prepared for them when they do. Though lots of haulage companies prefer to engage a specialist accident management firm, you might have decided that the best thing for your company is to deal with the consequences of collisions in-house. However, you need to ask yourself, are you doing enough to prevent the unseen consequences of a crash? Here is my step-by-step guide to what to do following an accident in order to protect both your company and your drivers.
Step 1: Immediate Reactions
It is essential that drivers are aware of the company policy following an incident. This should be part of training, part of the employee handbook and drivers should be up-dated regularly with any changes to your policy. Your drivers represent your company out in the world, and if they don’t know how to deal with an incident in a professional manner, it could reflect badly on the company.
The most important aspect of a company-wide policy is that drivers know who to contact immediately after the event. They should ring the appropriate manager as soon as it is safe to do so and report the incident. The manager can then record all of the pertinent details accurately. Here are some potential questions a manager could ask to extract the key information from their driver:
· What are the weather conditions like?
· How long have you been driving and when was your last break?
· Can you get the details of any witnesses?
· Is your vehicle drivable?
Another good idea is to encourage the driver to take photographs of important information at the scene. Details of number plates, vehicle damage and road markings can be really helpful in supporting their account of events.
Step 2: Claim Management
Though for your drivers out on delivery work it may seem like everything is over once the accident is cleared up, you know better. It is the role of fleet managers to ensure that all claims made are made fairly – this is why having a detailed incident report is so important. If you keep provable and accurate details of the incident, you can prevent inflated and fraudulent claims.
However, do try to keep the third party happy and resolve any problems quickly so that they do not feel the need to take legal advice. If they seek the help of one of the many accident-chasing organisations around, it could quickly become expensive for your company, even if their claim is bogus.
Step 3: Repairs
Speed is of the essence here. The fewer vehicles are out on the road, the less delivery work your company can carry out. Keep repairs quick and efficient and make sure that your mechanics stick to the timescale you agreed on.
Step 4: Analysis
Analysing the data after a collision is what separates good companies from careless ones. By consistently monitoring your collision data, you can attempt to identity common factors, such as road conditions, weather and the type of accident. By properly analysing this data, you can potentially prevent future accidents, making the roads safer for the general public, increasing your profits and saving you time.
Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching delivery work with available drivers. Over 5,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.