What to do after a traffic accident

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No one wants to think about having an accident with one of their commercial drivers, but do they know what the plan is in case it happens? Having solid procedures in place will help you and your driver keep your cool and navigate the post-accident issues.

Standard disclaimer: The following is not legal advice and you should consult with your attorney or legal department before implementing any changes in your current policies

Organization

Staying organized before an accident will really pay dividends later on. Ideally you should have answers to all the following questions:

  1. Who is the point of contact to talk to authorities?
  2. Does the company have a safety policy?
    1. What is it?
    2. How is it enforced?
  3. Where are the vehicle maintenance records? Driver records?
    1. How long should the records be kept?

Planning

Drivers

If your drivers don't have a plan, that is a plan for disaster. Keep your drivers and your company in aware of your post-accident plan so it doesn't come as a surprise.

  1. Make the scene safe - move to the side of the road if possible
  2. Call 911 - alert the emergency services
  3. Provide aid (if it is safe to do so) - help all injured parties
  4. Contact dispatcher - inform them of the accident
  5. Don't take photos - generally not a good idea, and besides, authorities will take plenty
  6. Cooperate with authorities
    1. Refrain from specifics as you will likely be emotional
    2. It is okay to say "I don't know"

Office

To keep things running smooth back at the office, make sure you have a game plan if a driver calls to let you know they were involved in an accident.

  1. Appoint a contact person - handle communications with authorities
  2. Don't talk to the media - inform your staff of this policy
  3. Contact legal representation - let your lawyer know what is going on
  4. Contact insurance company - open a case, even if you don't think you need it
  5. Preserve records - driver logs, time cards, vehicle inspection reports, etc.
  6. Keep communication open - keep everyone up to date on what is going on

There are a lot more we could add to these lists, however this should be a starting point for a converstation with your staff and your legal representation as to what works best for your business.