01 May So You’ve Been in a Crash: What to Do (and NOT to Do)
No matter how good a driver or how lucky you are, the odds are good you’ll be in a crash sometime during your fleet career. When it happens, stay calm and follow your fleet safety policies.
“A crash won’t happen to me.” Most of us have had this thought when we’re driving and see a roadside crash. We justify this with the mantra of “I’m a safe driver” or “I’m lucky, so I won’t be in a crash.” While this wishful thinking might be comforting, it doesn’t reflect the reality of the road.
A recent report by Together for Safer Roads (TSR), a coalition of global private sector companies, showed that between 25% and 33% of road crashes globally are work-related, and 36% of occupational deaths are due to crashes. Still think you are immune to a crash? Think again. The hard truth is there is a good statistical likelihood you will be involved in a work related crash sometime during your driving career.
So it is crucial you know what to do — and not do — when you’re in a work-related crash.
Be Calm: First and foremost is remain calm no matter who was at fault or the behavior of the other driver, and follow your fleet policies related to a crash.After a crash immediately contact your fleet manager or supervisor—as outlined in the fleet policy—and report the crash. Don’t leave the scene of the accident until you’ve exchanged information with the other driver and speak to the police on the scene.
Be Safe: After a crash you want to make sure you act in the safest possible way:
- If the vehicles are still drivable, move them out of traffic and to the side of the road.
- If the vehicles can’t be moved and there are no injuries, remain in the vehicle until help arrives with your safety belt fastened.
- If the accident occurred in a heavy traffic situation such as a highway or busy city street, it is crucial you don’t exit the vehicle — there are endless accounts of drivers who have been struck and killed when they have exited their vehicles after a highway crash.
- Alert other drivers by turning on hazard lights or, if it’s safe to do so, by placing safety cones and road flares on the shoulder behind the damaged vehicles once they’re moved.
Be Responsible: No matter the severity of the crash, contact the police. Contacting the police will help establish that you’ve followed proper procedures following a crash and will create a record of the accident. In some jurisdictions, police and other emergency personnel will not be dispatched if the vehicles are drivable and there are no reported injuries.
Be Thorough: As thoroughly as possible, document the accident. Reporting the accident will likely not be enough to satisfy your fleet’s safety policy:
- You will probably need to fill out a number of reports for the state or your fleet service provider.
- Use your smartphone to photograph or video the details ofthe crash, including damage, road conditions, and location.
- At the scene, record basic details of the event; who was involved — collect their names, driver’s license information, address, vehicle license number, and insurance information — witnesses; and the names and badge numbers of the police officers who respond (and obtain any copies of reports or citations that are filed after the fact).
Don’t Admit Fault: The most important thing you should do in the aftermath of a crash is not admit fault. Don’t discuss any specific factual details at the scene with anyone other than the police. Again, remain calm, be polite, but don’t admit anything. Be prepared to provide a valid insurance company ID card and valid vehicle registration.
When in doubt about what you should do, always defer to your fleet’s safety policy. It is designed to keep you safe and limit your liability and that of the company. The bottom line isdon’t engage in wishful thinking that you won’t be in an accident, and be prepared for the aftermath of a crash before it happens.