As a fleet manager, or business owner who also runs a fleet, it goes without saying that if there’s one thing you need to be well prepared for, it’s how to handle fleet vehicle accidents.

That statement may seem obvious to some, but it can often be something that small business overlook. Crash, or accident, management is one of the first things you need to think about safety wise. And that goes for whether its a minor scrape or a fatal accident.

It’s a subject we hope that none of you have to deal with – at least on a regular basis. But in order to make sure that you are in a good position to do so, we’ve put together some key points that you need to consider when thinking about how you will handle fleet vehicle accidents.

As a fleet manager it’s always vital to avoid common mistakes that a fleet owner makes. And failure to be in a position to handle accidents should not be among them.

Fleet vehicle accidents: how to be ready

The main problem with fleet vehicle accidents is that they are costly. They lead to a loss of fleet productivity, first and foremost. And that means a negative impact on your company’s bottom line. You’ll have repair shop costs to deal with, fleet vehicles may have to be replaced, insurance premiums will go up, as well as fleet maintenance costs. On top of that, fleet drivers may also have to be hospitalized, while your business may be held liable for damages and injuries.

What can you do?

As with most things relating to safety and security, prevention is key. If you take the necessary steps to ensuring you do your best to prevent accidents from happening, then you’re already half-way there. Because the thing with crashes or accidents is that size does not really matter in general. Even minor incidents and scrapes involving one or more of your fleet’s vehicles will require you to think on your feet and act quickly. 

With that, let’s have a look at our top tips to keep in mind to try and prevent fleet vehicle accidents:

Safety culture

You have to lead from the front and make a ‘culture of safety’ your top priority. Any perceived lack of safety culture is not just bad for business in terms of costs incurred because of accidents happening due to that fact; it’s also bad for morale. Your fleet drivers will not feel the need to take care, and may drive more aggressively. Or worse, still, they may not feel valued, and start to look elsewhere. That’s a disaster where driver retention is concerned.

Training

While you may expect your drivers to be fully-training professionals, some of them may not be. And even for the ones that are, a refresher training course – or even regular workshops – with a focus on safety does not harm. Offer training on topics things like selecting the proper tires and vehicle fluids for a long-distance trip, for example; as well as other basic safety and security checks. If you can’t do it yourself, offer training on things like defensive driving. Apart from helping to avoid accidents, it’s a sure-fire way to other benefits, such as fuel savings, and maintenance cost-savings.

Safe scheduling

In order to avoid fleet vehicle accidents, practicing safe scheduling is a must. What do we mean by this? In short, to make sure your fleet schedule is anti fatigue-inducing for the drivers. There’s only so much that coffee consumption can do to help drivers stay awake on long journeys; especially in night time hours. By managing your fleet schedule, both more efficiently and more safely, you can cut down on accidents related to tiredness for example.

Use technology

It’s 2020. And if you are not using a fleet management solution, even if you are a small or medium-sized business, then you’re doing it wrong. Aside from being able to keep up with logging your trips for compliance and basic safety, you can make all kinds of cost-savings. That is, based on greater efficiency of your operations. Additionally, there’s also the ability to monitor things like driving behavior. With a tool such as our very own Veturilo – designed especially for small to medium-sized businesses – in your repertoire, the benefits are endless. And one of the main ones is using the data you collect to proactively address driver behavior issues. With a fleet tracking solution, you will be able to identify problematic drivers who consistently break safety rules; such as hard acceleration and breaking, speeding, not wearing a safety belt, and more. 

What about accidents themselves?

What happens though when fleet vehicle accidents “slips through” your preventative policy safety net? The main thing after prevention, is to always be prepared. You do that by making sure you cover the following:

  • Have clear communication protocols between drivers and HQ set up. And make sure the drivers and staff working with the fleet are fully aware of them.
  • All your fleet vehicles should be equipped with the right safety gear. That ranges from fire extinguishers (that are regularly checked) to road safety and emergency kits, complete with those warning triangles.
  • All fleet drivers should have mobile phones with cameras; and, if possible, in-car cameras
  • Always have a specific ‘accident report form’ like this one.

And as soon as an accident or incident happens, this handy step-by-step guide for fleet vehicle accidents offers a good plan of action to follow. That is, depending on the circumstances of the crash or incident of course:

  1. Stop and get off the vehicle
  2. Turn on the hazard warning lights
  3. Check yourself and any passengers for injuries
  4. Briefly inspect the damage
  5. Move away from the traffic of the road
  6. Set up warning triangles
  7. Call 911 to report it
  8. Exchange information with the other driver(s)
  9. Contact insurance company
  10. Wait patiently, have a drink of water and try to stay calm
  11. Avoid any potentially provocative discussions

Minimize any downtime

Obviously after fleet vehicle accidents, the driver(s) and/or vehicle(s) may be out of action for a while. This means downtime for your business. As a fleet manager or business owner running a fleet, this is problematic. Especially if you have a small fleet and can’t afford a truck, van or car to be off the road for more than a couple of days. So you want to make sure you have steps in place for this. Whether it is reserve vehicles or renting from third parties, you will need to make sure you can cover any gaps. Even if you have to take a hit on your usual profit margins. The same goes for your drivers.

Finally, prevention is better than a cure

In the end, you have to prepare yourself for the fact that things will go wrong. There will be accidents. The point is to make sure you are doing your utmost to try and prevent them. And also make sure you prepare well so that when they do happen, you can handle them as smoothly as possible.

As with most things in life involving safety, prevention is always better than trying to find a cure. So, be smart. Use technology like Veturilo for a start. And try to focus on doing your best to stop accidents before they happen.

And, during lockdown period…

Although roads have become less congested during this challenging period of lockdown, if you or one of your drivers get involved in an accident you should adhere to social distancing guidelines. So, keep a safe distance from other people involved in the accident while exchanging information, such as insurance cards or anything else. Also, in case your vehicle needs to be towed make sure that you’ll also practice social distancing. And make any possible effort to find a way to your safe transportation.

How to handle fleet vehicle accidents was last modified: April 9th, 2020 by Graham Wood