Every transportation organization's ultimate goal is to strive toward zero crashes. The responsibility of managing a crash when it occurs should not be limited to the Safety department, because it will impact the entire organization in some capacity. From operations to vehicle maintenance, everyone should be aware of their responsibilities and be prepared to respond when a crash is reported. It is extremely important that there are systems in place to support the communication and visibility of the event throughout the organization to ensure the appropriate steps are being taken to mitigate the risk to your company.
Preparation is Key
Crashes can occur at any time. It's important that your plan includes a process for crashes that happen during normal business hours AND afterhours. Be sure to have a direct crash call-in line so the driver can immediately speak with the appropriate personnel. Since there are time-sensitive events such as FMCSA Post-Accident drug and alcohol testing that may need to occur based on the type of crash, it is critical to get the information documented as accurately and quickly as possible.
Your safety plan should include the proper tools and support systems to take the information in as quickly as possible. For example, providing the call center or safety personnel with access to an electronic crash report form can dramatically speed up the process and make it more efficient. As the driver ID is entered into the form, the form can then self-populate with additional driver information that is maintained in the carrier's database. This not only speeds up the process, but will also ensure that more accurate information is entered. These types of electronic forms can also expedite the delivery of notifications to the appropriate safety and management personnel based on the type of crash.
Respond, Cooperate, and Document
Once the crash occurs, the way in which your company responds is critical to the outcome. Now that an event has occurred, managing the aftermath will impact not only safety, but potentially the relationship with your drivers, your customers, your exposure, and your brand. Below are three critical factors that may enter into the equation when managing a crash.
- Enforcement: Cooperation with law enforcement is highly encouraged. If the crash is severe, a post-crash inspection may be conducted by the authorities, similar to a roadside inspection but documented as "post-crash." It is important for the company to document the inspection type correctly so that the appropriate action can be taken. Systems that provide automated response workflows can not only assure that your organization is taking the required steps, but will also have the documentation and audit logs available to any parties needing visibility. Maintaining this level of accountability could potentially mitigate your risk.
- Insurance: Depending on the severity of the crash and type of insurance utilized by the motor carrier, immediate reporting of the crash to the insurance provider may be required. With so much required data necessary to gather after the crash, it is important to have systems that can collect and disseminate to the appropriate parties. The sooner insurance companies are notified, the more quickly the claim can be processed. Being able to send and receive information electronically between both companies will streamline the processing of the claim by eliminating the redundant data entry into both systems and improving the accuracy of the information transferred between systems.
- Litigation: Litigation is rampant when a commercial motor vehicle is involved in a crash. The use of safety technology in the litigation process is important to mitigating exposure and complying with regulatory statutes. As more and more safety devices and their data are made available, those companies who have systems in place to identify the at-risk behavior and use that information to coach, educate and, if necessary, remove the driver, will be in a better position to maintain a safe fleet as well as mitigate their exposure when a crash occurs.
Properly navigating through the conditions surrounding a crash can impact the outcome. Visibility to the event and proper communication throughout the organization is imperative, and having the right systems and processes in place can allow your organization to better mitigate your risk when an accident occurs. For more information about InfoStream's safety solutions and managed services that can help your organization in the event of an accident,visit infostreamonline.com or call 833.255.5046.
InfoStream, an EBE company, draws upon more than 45 years of experience in transportation safety and compliance solutions to incorporate both outsourced and internally managed compliance services and software. InfoStream combines first-class workflow technology with unmatched customer service to create a standard that is unlike other compliance offerings in the industry, aggregating data from a variety of sources into a single, comprehensive view to improve regulatory compliance and positively impact ROI.