Commercial Truck drivers will log substantially more miles than the average driver does in a year. Today’s modern truck is safer than ever, with improved safety technologies in trucks, allowing shorter stopping distances, stability control equipment, improved ABS. Even with all of these improvements, unfortunately, accidents can still happen, and often it is not the fault of the truck driver. You need to be prepared before you get into an accident, so you know what to do.
The following is 11 steps that will help you get through the immediate aftermath of a crash, and to help you protect your professional reputation and your livelihood as a professional driver.
- STOP! When involved in an accident, even if it is minor, do NOT leave the scene until speaking with the other driver, the police, or both. If the incident involves damage to property, not a vehicle, ensure you are able to notify the property owner.
- Stay Calm. Try to remain as calm as possible, and do not react in anger.
- Is everyone safe? Ensure everyone involved is safe, and contact the authorities immediately to come to the accident. They can dispatch the emergency help needed. The basics in first aid training is, do not move anyone unless there is a danger of fire or future injury if they remain where they are. If anyone in the accident is bleeding, feels lightheaded, or has any physical injury contact emergency medical help.
- Safety First. If the accident is minor with no injuries, move the vehicles to the side of the road and out of other traffic. If the vehicle cannot be moved, remain in the vehicle with seat belts fastened until authorities arrive. Walking around in traffic can be dangerous.
- Contact the Authorities from the crash site. If you are unable to contact the local authorities, instruct someone to call the local police, or state highway patrol. Do NOT leave the scene until the police officer authorizes you to leave.
- Dangerous Cargo? If you are hauling cargo that is dangerous or hazardous, ensure you know the protocols for your cargo to keep everyone on site, and the environment clean.
- Prevent another accident. Setup road flares or warning triangles to warn other drivers to prevent another accident. If you have a safety vest or other brightly colored clothing to stand out to other drivers.
- Do Not Admit Fault. Do not discuss the details of the accident with anyone by the police. Stay calm, and be polite. Do not admit fault to the other driver or the police. Do not sign any documents or statements, other than what the police require.
- Contact Your Employer. Call you dispatcher or fleet manager as per your company’s procedures.
- Document the Accident.
- Photos: When it is safe, take photographs of damage to all of the vehicles, and property involved. Include any photos that also show road conditions, intersections, traffic signs, traffic lights.
- Report: Write a detailed report of all the details of the accident including time, date, weather and traffic conditions. Keep your driver's logs with this report information.
- Involved Parties: If possible, ask for the contact details of the other drivers involved in the accident, including their insurance company, and insurance policy numbers, and driver’s license number.
- Witnesses: Also identify any witnesses or third parties to the accident, and record their contact information for reference.
- Police Officers: Record their names, badge numbers, and instructions on where and how to obtain the police report, and/or any issuance of citations.
- Dash Cams: If you have invested in a dash cam, ensure you keep this video footage safe for evidence
- Cooperate with authorities. You may be subject to blood and alcohol test that authorities will administer. Remember always stay calm and cooperate with local police and authorities.