52,490. That was the number of people who were killed or seriously injured on Britain's roads in 2011 according to official government figures. The slither of good news is that such figures are down by 5% compared to 2010. The bad news remains obvious though – there's still a large number of people being hurt or worse on Britain's roads. And pragmatic company directors are clearly worried about the ramifications of such accidents.
Because of the potential threat of corporate manslaughter legislation if their drivers are found to be liable, the number of companies taking out risk management policies on their fleets has sky-rocketed from 37% in 2006 to 98% in 2011, according to Alphabet's Fleet Management Report 2011.
Perhaps then, as well as training drivers in fuel-saving techniques and giving them company fuel cards, it's the ideal time for a reminder about what drivers should do if they should be involved in an accident; what may seem like simple common sense when nonchalantly chatting about the issue in the office can be forgotten or become confused in the aftermath of an accident.
Stop and light up!
No matter how small the accident, drivers are legally obliged to stop immediately. Light up those hazard lights too, to warn other road users of the incident.
Call the authorities
Call '999' immediately if someone has been hurt and/or the aftermath of the accident could cause a potential hazard to other road users. Also, some people involved in accidents can become, let's say, irrational. If this happens, then an authoritative third-party may be required to take control of an already fraught situation.
A frank exchange of information
Exchange insurance details with the other driver. If another company driver is involved, be sure to get their employer’s details too. Note the details of all the vehicles involved such as licence plates, make, model and colour. Also, get names and contact details from any witnesses to the accident.
Most of us use phones that have built-in cameras; so this is a time to use them for something other than taking embarrassing pictures of colleagues at the office party. Shoot pictures of the scene of the accident, remembering to snap all vehicle damage and any street names. To help further, draw what happened during the accident, plotting vehicle directions, noting road conditions and so forth. Do this as soon as possible because memories can fade fast.
Don't apologise or accept liability for the accident. Such issues will be taken care of by the insurance companies – and who knows, you might not actually be at fault even if you initially think you are. Let the trained experts decide who is in the wrong.
Fleet managers and insurance companies should be contacted as soon as possible; not contacting the latter immediately could invalidate your insurance. If your vehicle needs to be towed and is fitted with a tracking device for insurance reasons, it would be wise to call the tracking service to inform them of the incident so a false alarm isn't raised when the car is taken away on the back of a trailer.
What to have in your car at all times:
- Insurance paperwork and driver's licence
- Warning triangle and a high-visibility vest
- Mobile phone
- First aid kit
- Compact and properly secured fire extinguisher.
And one moo thing...
If a cow, donkey, horse, sheep, goat, dog or pig is injured as a direct result of your accident, then the authorities must be contacted.
For more ideas on managing your drivers, please download oureGuide ‘Driving 101: Teaching your drivers how to drive for fuel efficiency’
Guest Post: James Knight is the fuel management consultant of The Fuelcard Company, the largest commercial reseller of company fuel cards in the UK. You can read more on his expertise in fuel control and solutions on vehicle maintenance by reading Fuel Cards Blog here. You can also find him on Google+ and Twitter.