Operations

How To Manage A Motorcoach Accident Or Crisis

Bob Crescenzo
Posted on November 19, 2019
Accidents are by definition unexpected events, but you can mitigate the damage by having a crisis/accident management plan in place and properly training your drivers. (LCT image via Getty)

Accidents are by definition unexpected events, but you can mitigate the damage by having a crisis/accident management plan in place and properly training your drivers. (LCT image via Getty)

[This article originally appeared in METRO Magazine].

No driver plans to have an accident; crashes are sudden and unexpected events. However, what you and your drivers can plan for is how to manage the people and scene when an accident occurs.

By having a crisis/accident management plan in place and properly training your drivers in executing the plan, you can help keep them safe and protect your passengers and your company’s reputation. It can also affect the outcome of the claim.

Keys To Managing The Scene

The following are the key components your drivers should know to effectively manage the scene of an accident:

How to protect passengers by securing the scene:
• Get help from local authorities.
• Assist others at the scene.
• Gather and exchange information.

Consider training your operations, dispatch, and maintenance staff to make sure drivers get the calm, reassuring support they need at the accident scene.

Consider training your operations, dispatch, and maintenance staff to make sure drivers get the calm, reassuring support they need at the accident scene.

More specifically, your driver should be trained to:
• Assess the situation and determine if passengers are OK; determine if the vehicle is stopped where it is blocking traffic and needs to be moved.
• Protect the vehicle from being involved in an additional incident by activating the four-way flashers and setting out warning devices. (Move the vehicle if it creates a hazard.)
• Call the police, the company, and your insurance company, even if all the information is not available; alert emergency responders about any injuries.
• Assist the injured, but only provide first aid if personally trained and certified.
• Help passengers and make them comfortable, if possible.
• If there are no injuries, attempt to provide the passengers with another vehicle to complete their trip.
• Exchange information with other parties involved. Avoid confrontation or admitting liability. Stay calm and professional. Follow the company’s policy with respect to making statements to police; drivers are only required to give their name, address, commercial driver’s license information, company name, vehicle data, and insurance information.
• Obtain names, addresses, and phone numbers of witnesses and nearby motorists and pedestrians. There are an increasing number of recording devices in vehicles, meaning someone may have filmed the accident. It’s important to ask anyone who has stopped at the scene if they witnessed the crash.
• Photograph all vehicles (from four angles) and the scene (i.e., road conditions, tire marks, debris, traffic patterns, and traffic control devices). If a cell phone is used to take photos, send the photos immediately to your insurance company; avoid deleting them until the claims adjuster has confirmed it is okay to do so.

Drivers should be trained to photograph all the vehicles involved in an accident from four angles, as well as the surrounding scene itself.

Drivers should be trained to photograph all the vehicles involved in an accident from four angles, as well as the surrounding scene itself.

Training Your Drivers

Of course, the best time to train and prepare your drivers for managing an accident scene is before a crash or incident occurs. Drivers well trained and experienced in dealing with crisis situations are often more alert and better able to handle driving challenges.

As a result, an important element in your company’s crisis/accident management plan is to conduct a driver’s meeting with live exercises to simulate the aftermath of a crash. Be sure to provide your drivers with detailed information about who to call when an accident occurs, including the phone numbers, as well as what to expect under different accident scenarios. Have your drivers practice gathering information from each other during the training meeting. Make sure they have the opportunity to practice “taking accident pictures” during the meeting as well. Encourage your drivers to remain calm, make sure passengers are safe, and then follow the key steps in managing the scene.

Related LCT article: How To Make An Accident Kit

Likewise, consider training your operations, dispatch, and maintenance staff in your company’s crisis/accident management plan to ensure drivers get the calm, reassuring support they need at the accident scene. Your employees can also help the driver determine whether federal drug and alcohol testing requirements apply.

Your staff should be advised to avoid providing statements to the media unless they have been reviewed and approved by your insurance company’s claims adjuster. They should also be instructed to prepare and preserve your driver and maintenance files, and secure related electronic logging device materials, as those items will be critical to an accident investigation. Remember, any messages sent between your employees and the driver, or notes taken regarding the accident, can be used in court.

Planning Ahead

A few additional points:
• Your company’s crisis/accident management plan should be reviewed and updated annually at a minimum, and drivers and employees should regularly receive refresher training. Get input from your staff on ways to improve your plan.

• Any social media posts about the accident can be obtained and used in legal proceedings. Remind all drivers and employees to be responsible and professional, and avoid posting or commenting about anything related to the accident or the people involved.

• Keep your company’s FMCSA SAFER information up-to-date and accurate… you can expect the media and lawyers to look up scores.

Managing the scene of an accident is stressful and challenging. The better your drivers and employees are prepared, the more positive the impact on your passengers and, perhaps, on the outcome of the claim.

Bob Crescenzo is VP at Lancer Insurance Company, a major fleet insurance vendor in the luxury ground transportation industry.

Related Topics: accidents, bus crash, crisis management, driver safety, Lancer Insurance, passenger safety

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