As you know, trucking requires a lot of time on the road. Unfortunately,
the more time you spend behind the wheel, the more likely you are to be
involved in an accident at some point. Even the safest drivers may find
themselves in an accident, so it’s important to understand your role,
and the vital information you should collect.
Just as there are rules of the road, there are rules you should follow if you’re in an accident. It’s important you know what to do, beginning immediately after the accident:
Stop immediately. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime, which can bring severe penalties. Not only could you be ticketed, but you could also potentially be suspended or fired. Don’t leave until you receive permission from law enforcement.
Protect the scene. Turn on your four-way flashers, and quickly—but safely—set out warning devices, following DOT regulations. This step will help prevent further accidents on the scene.
Help the injured. Assist anyone who’s hurt, but don’t move them unless absolutely necessary to prevent further injury or danger.
Notify the police. Call 911 immediately, or have another motorist report the accident. Don’t leave the truck and cargo unguarded, except in an extreme emergency.
Notify your employer. Contact your dispatcher or company safety officer and provide a specific location and time, along with descriptions of any injuries or damage, the condition of the cargo, and where you can be reached.
Notify our claims department to report the crash. Call to report the crash—assistance is available 24 hours a day.
Learn who was involved. Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of those in the accident, as well as any witnesses. If the accident is a hit-and-run, or the other driver refuses to provide information, give police all the details you can, including a license plate number. If possible, take photos of the other driver’s license and license plates.
Provide your information. Give your name, your company’s name, and offer to show a driver’s license. But remember: admit nothing, promise nothing, and sign nothing. In fact, don’t discuss accident details with anyone other than police and the representatives from your company.
Be professional. Getting upset and arguing only escalates the situation. Be polite to everyone, including those involved in the crash, witnesses, and police.
Record the scene. Don’t move any vehicles—unless it’s absolutely necessary to prevent further damage or injury—until you’ve photographed any skid marks, lights, road signs, and weather and road conditions. After you’ve documented and secured the scene, get shots of all four corners of the damaged vehicles, license plates, and a full view of the scene—including road markings and traffic signals. Most importantly, don’t photograph anyone who was injured or killed.
Manage the recovery effort. If vehicles are disabled and require towing, ask police if you can call a towing service. We partner with Transit Pros, a national network of towing companies. If the police decline your offer, or if they’ve begun recovery efforts, monitor the scene and take photos of the towing operation from a safe distance. Note how long the towing company was on the scene, and if they performed any special tasks, such as a fuel spill cleanup. By tracking this information, you can help protect your company and Sentry from potentially inflated towing fees.
Keep in mind that this is just a quick overview of what you should do, say, and record if you’re in an accident. Your company’s safety officer may have additional suggestions. Taken together, not only will this information make the post-accident process easier for your employer and Sentry,
it will help you stay safer and calmer at the accident scene.