Operations

How To Protect Your Fleet From Common Accidents

Tom Halligan
Posted on April 20, 2017

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)

Rear-Enders
“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.

Protect You Rear

The fact more vehicles are on the road, due to the improving economy coupled with distracted driving responsible for more accidents, means operators should take any and all steps possible to train chauffeurs to help reduce accidents.

Here are tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) chauffeurs should follow to avoid rear-enders. Some are obvious, but reminding all drivers (especially new and part-time staff) of the basics establishes the foundation for chauffeurs to follow all safety procedures on every trip.

Bob Crescenzo of Lancer Insurance Company stresses chauffeurs should avoid distractions, such as using tablets or phones while driving, as well as carefully timing and planning routes and trips. “They need to pay attention to what’s behind them and be sure to adjust the rear-view mirrors so you can see what’s going on around you.”

Other tips include:
• Avoid sudden mergers and lane changes.
• Always signal changing lanes.
• Keep up with traffic flow.
• Get away from tailgaters as soon as possible.
• Try to avoid driver’s blind spots.
• Always brake early.
• Keep safe distance from the vehicle in front of you.
• In adverse weather, increase the distance between your car and the one in front.
• Pay close attention to traffic flow.

Who’s At Fault? Crash Apps Help Make Your Case

Michael Barreto, chief operating officer, Eagle Chauffeured Services, says using dash camera recorders and phone crash apps have replaced the old days of carrying disposable cameras in the car when an accident occurs (LCT photo courtesy of Mike Barreto)
Michael Barreto, chief operating officer, Eagle Chauffeured Services, says using dash camera recorders and phone crash apps have replaced the old days of carrying disposable cameras in the car when an accident occurs (LCT photo courtesy of Mike Barreto)
Michael Barreto recalls when chauffeurs would carry a disposable camera in their vehicles to snap photos in the event of an accident to help determine who hit who. Fortunately today, technology and phone apps can help substantiate fault.

Not only are more limousine companies outfitting vehicles with dash cameras that record accidents and traffic conditions at the time of the incident, but new phone “crash apps” are being used to gather data and information to help insurance companies determine fault and speed up the reporting process among all parties.

“There are apps available chauffeurs can use on their phones and tablets to collect data and photographs that can immediately be sent to your claims or fleet manager and insurance company that provide a record of all the information following an accident,” Barreto says.

He notes such apps (many are free) collect GPS data at the time of the accident and incorporate photographs the chauffeur takes, as well as other pertinent data and information bundled together and sent to the appropriate parties.

For example, one app, Car Accident Report (supplied by OutSystems), allows you to pre-load vehicle information, emergencies, and insurance contact information that simplifies the claims process. The app allows one to:

• Automatically access all policy information to quickly submit an accident claim.
• Take photos with the mobile device and add them to the claim to document all details of the accident.
• Capture the geolocation of the accident directly from your mobile device for tow truck and medical assistance request, as well as for documentation.
• Receive push notifications with updates and estimated times of arrival of towing truck, replacement car, and other services that may apply.

Related Topics: accident reduction, accidents, distracted driving, limo crashes, Mike Barreto, passenger safety, Safety, Safety & Insurance, text messaging, vehicle safety

Comments ( 2 )
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  • john michael

     | about 7 months ago

    Man this is good info! Who says there is not enough to train the chauffeurs. People movers need this more so because of more people carried and risks. Keep up the good articles!

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