The worst time to implement a plan for handling a critical crash is right after one occurs. Critical crashes are vehicular accidents that involve a fatality, serious injury, the release of hazardous material, or some other form of catastrophic loss. Such accidents are not only tragic, but can be extremely debilitating for businesses when their vehicles and drivers are involved. Whether it concerns money, time or reputation, how a company handles a critical crash will determine how much damage is incurred.
According to Transport Canada, in 2010 there were 2,227 motor vehicle fatalities and 11,226 serious injuries arising from automotive accidents. For businesses that depend on fleets, these numbers show how important it is to have a plan in place.
"You may not see yourself as likely to be involved in a crash of this magnitude and think that the authorities and your insurance carrier will manage the process for you," said Steve Bojan, Senior Risk Consultant at HUB International Risk Services. "In reality, they are only a part of the solution and their objectives are not always aligned with that of your organization."
Developing a critical crash response plan
Canadian companies with fleets should have response plans for critical crashes that are shared with drivers, supervisors and senior managers. The plan should focus first on those most vulnerable to a critical crash: drivers.
"When a critical crash occurs, your driver is often disoriented and scared," Bojan said. "They need to be reassured and provided direction on what information to provide, and how to deal with people on the scene. Everyone needs to understand their roles and responsibilities as well as whom to contact and when. They will also need to know what outside resources are available and how to get in touch with them."
It is also essential that business owners get in touch with their insurance provider as soon as possible. Contact a HUB International broker to explore your options when it comes to fleet insurance, and select a plan that suits your needs.
Reducing risk through driver safety
When a detailed, comprehensive plan is in place, businesses can rest a little easier knowing that all employees have a framework to follow should the worst happen. However, there are other ways for companies to increase safety, specifically by focusing on their fleet drivers on the road.
The first step for any business employing drivers should be to check the driver's motor vehicle record, or MVR. MVRs will show employers if an individual has a poor driving record or has convictions stemming from reckless driving or driving while under the influence.
All new employees should undergo safety training, it is also a good idea for companies to invest in continued safety education. By making sure that drivers are regularly tested on safe driving practices and are taught about preventable accidents, businesses can gain peace of mind knowing they are making safety a priority.
Companies should also invest in agreements with drivers outlining things such as safety rules, maintenance schedules, accident procedures and other vital information. By having drivers sign these agreements, indicating that they understand their rights and responsibilities, businesses can save themselves a lot of legal trouble down the line if an accident should occur.
While avoiding a critical crash should be incentive enough, there are things companies can do to encourage accident avoidance. For instance, offering bonuses to safe drivers with good records can lead to more drivers focusing on safety. On the other hand, having drivers pay for a portion of avoidable accidents out-of-pocket can also act as an incentive to focus on safe driving, as well as reduce personal use of company vehicles.
To learn more about critical crash preparation, view the HUB International on-demand webinar, entitled "Critical Crashes: What to Do Before and After a Crash to Reduce your Exposure". It discusses a number of key components of any critical crash response plan and can serve as a starting point to developing a program that will enable your company to be better prepared to manage a catastrophic loss.
All critical crashes are terrible situations, but not learning from them is a tragedy. For more information contact your HUB International Risk Services consultant.