Fleet News

Accident management: The aftermath

YOU may be lucky enough not to have had any serious accidents in your fleet recently but even the most fortunate of firms will see drivers have regular bumps, scrapes and near-misses.

According to a new information pack from road safety charity Brake, many companies do not record accident data and often the information that drivers are required to report to employers about an incident is limited.

Such information can be used not only to support insurance claims but also to manage on-road risk. Reporting and recording incidents can build a picture of causes and extent, and help companies improve driver safety.

In the world of fleet, driver safety is particularly important, as research by the Transport Research Laboratory suggests that company car drivers have approximately 50% more crashes than ordinary drivers, even taking their higher mileage into account.

Brake says it is important for managers to remember that acting on minor incidents can help prevent major incidents in the future. As well as that, it can also identify trends resulting in scrapes and bumps that can be tackled, saving you money.

Different firms report and record their crash information in different ways and sometimes even divisions of the same company have differing methods. This can make it difficult to compare data gathered and spot patterns. It also means the effectiveness of any risk management procedures can be hard to track.

Poor or incomplete accident information makes it harder to defend insurance or personal injury claims, which can be costly to companies. As well as the expense, such claims can also have a negative effect on a company’s reputation.

An incident reporting procedure is vital for all drivers. They should be trained in how to gather the necessary data quickly and correctly in the event of an incident. Fleet managers should also provide staff with the necessary equipment to carry out such procedures. This equipment could come in the form of:

Becoming increasingly popular, crash packs usually include bump cards (see next section), a disposable camera, a written guide on what to do in a crash, an incident report form, a pen and a torch.

Putting all these things together means drivers should not be missing anything in the event of a crash. Such events can be quite traumatic and having everything in one place can be useful for a shaken-up member of staff.

Bump cards are simply forms with space on them to fill in all necessary details of an incident. Blank bump cards should be keep inside all company vehicles at all times.

The cards should include spaces for crash details, including the date, time, location, road condition and speed limit.

Also included should be details of the police that attended and any damage to the other vehicle, as well as details of the vehicle and its driver.

Witnesses should be approached for their names and addresses, and the form should also feature a brief description and sketch of what happened.

It’s a good idea to have a detachable part of the form that can be given to the other party with details of the company driver and firm on it.

After an incident, fleet managers should interview drivers within 24 hours and complete a report form.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) recommends managers investigate crashes and near misses. Such an investigation should establish how and why the incident occurred and identify the corrective measures needed to prevent a similar incident happening again.

If they are experienced enough, a fleet manager should also decide whether the driver was at fault. Whether driving too fast, applying brakes too fiercely or failing to anticipate difficulties and danger, consequences can vary from further training to the driver being taken off driving duties. But be careful, apportioning blame is not always easy and you need to have a watertight case.

Information about every incident should be recorded on a computer database to enable analysis over a period of time.

The data might, for example, show that one driver is involved in more incidents than others, or that crashes tend to happen on a particular stretch of road.

Trends should be publicised internally and possible action – whether driver training or devising alternative routes – identified.

Case study British Gas

A HOUSEHOLD name across the country, British Gas operates more than 9,500 vehicles, mostly vans driven by engineers visiting 10-16 homes each day.

In 2004, the firm decided to improve its crash data management and consequently its drivers’ safety. Jon York, fleet compliance manager, says employees involved in a crash must report the incident through an external company, AA Accident Management.

‘Monthly reports are produced,’ York says, ‘and data is analysed over a period of 18 months to identify any emerging trends.

‘Staff who use their own vehicles to drive on company business are encouraged to inform their line managers of any incidents at work.

‘Drivers must undertake an assessment on recruitment and driving history details are considered to decide if training is needed. Training feedback is also recorded to compare with future incident records.

‘Any serious vehicle collisions are thoroughly investigated and British Gas has also joined a benchmarking group, which enables operators to compare crash data.’

Fact file

  • Record as much information as possible about an incident.
  • Equip drivers with crash packs and bump cards to log details.
  • Interview drivers soon after an incident.
  • Log all information and analyse it for trends.
  • Establish plans of action to counter trends.
  • Consider modern technology an aid to accident management.
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