Wayne Andrews, a safety representative for insurance company Marvin Johnson & Associates, offered drivers and fleet managers a list of tips for coping with commercial vehicle accidents on March 23 at a seminar here at the Mid-America Trucking Show.
“Chaos takes over at an accident a lot of times, so be prepared for it before it happens,” said Andrews, a former Indiana State Police officer and truck driver.
Some of the suggestions were as simple as keeping your windshield clean and always doing a pre-trip inspection.
Others were less obvious. While drivers should remain polite and professional, beyond that, they should limit what they say.
“Don’t sign anything at the scene of an accident except a citation from a police officer. Don’t admit fault or apologize, and don’t discuss the accident except with police, your company and your insurance company,” Andrews advised.
Bad luck often doesn’t stop with one event. Andrews urges drivers to secure the scene of an accident with reflective triangles and four-way flashers.
“You want to avoid secondary crashes. They can be worse than the initial event,” he said.
Documentation is also very important, he said, recommending that drivers take lots of pictures, at least a dozen from various angles, and take notes on weather condition, witnesses and the chain of events. One exception on photos: Don’t take pictures of injured people.
Andrews said every trucker should have some emergency equipment, including triangles, flares and a fire extinguisher.
Drivers also should know their companies’ accident-reporting policies and should fill out report forms quickly.
“Following policies protects you, both the driver and the company,” Andrews said.