How To Protect Your Fleet From Common Accidents

Posted on April 20, 2017 by Tom Halligan - Also by this author

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More people are dying on our nation’s highway than ever before. In a preliminary report released in February, National Safety Council (NSC) data estimates up to 40,000 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2016. That marks a 6% increase compared to 2015, and a 14% increase over 2014.

The findings are shocking in that the 2014-2016 statistics signal the “most dramatic two-year escalation since 1964 — 53 years,” notes the NSC report.

Further, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports from 2014 to 2015 police-reported crashes rose by 4%. Not only is the latest data alarming, reversing a 10-year downward trend, but operators also have another problem dealing with more highway accidents: Fewer police respond to minor fender benders.

Percentage of young people who say they have sent a text while driving: 71
Source: Distraction Gov

“Police are no longer dispatched in Philadelphia for non-fatal, non-injury accidents,” says Michael Barreto, chief operating officer of Eagle Chauffeured Services in Upland, Penn. “In major cities, police have so many other priorities where manpower is needed instead of dealing with minor fender benders. You can still call or go to the local police precinct to file a report, but they don’t get in the middle of it anymore and chase down both parties to get their versions of a minor accident.”

He notes state police and local municipality police still respond to the scene of minor accidents to aid drivers and control traffic and cleanup, but when it comes to large cities, “they have higher priorities to deal with, and I understand that.”

Drivers involved in a minor accident still can call 911 where a dispatcher will determine whether or not police should be dispatched based on circumstances. But Barreto knows from experience chauffeurs must follow policy and procedures when a fender bender occurs to gather appropriate information for the insurance company and protect the company on the question of fault.

Of course operators have accident policies in place and train chauffeurs on procedures to follow when an accident occurs. However, considering traffic fatalities and accidents have spiked, it’s prudent to refresh your policies, procedures, and training, and use technology as a necessity to aid in accident information gathering. (See sidebar)

“The most common limousine company claims are rear-end accidents accounting for over 26% of the total number of claims,” says Bob Crescenzo, vice president of Safety & Loss Control at Lancer Insurance Company. Sideswipes are the second most common type of limousine company claims, he adds.

Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting.
Source: NHTSA

“It’s important to break that 26% down, because our insured vehicle hitting another vehicle in the rear accounts for 12%, and the other vehicle hitting our insured vehicle in the rear accounts for 14%,” he says. “It’s interesting because our insured vehicle hitting another vehicle accounts for more than 6% of claim costs, while another vehicle hitting our insured vehicle accounts for only 1% of claim costs.

Bob Crescenzo, vice president of Safety & Loss Control at Lancer Insurance Company (LCT photo courtesy of Lancer)
Bob Crescenzo, vice president of Safety & Loss Control at Lancer Insurance Company (LCT photo courtesy of Lancer)
Crescenzo stresses rear-end claims are costly and often interrupt delivery of service to customers. “When you consider the repair cost, plus the cost of lost business, these claims are alarmingly expensive for both the short- and long-term to your business.”

To minimize risks, chauffeurs have to be on their game every trip due to the rise in distracted drivers causing an increasing number of traffic fatalities and accidents. The NHTSA reports in 2014 more than 3,000 people were killed and 431,000 injured due to distracted driving.

What procedures chauffeurs execute following a fender-bender is crucial to determine fault, especially if police don’t respond to the scene.

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