All the training and hands-on experience in the world may not be enough to prevent a truck or van driver from being involved in a crash caused by the negligence of other motorists. You hope it never happens, but you should always be prepared for what to do at the scene of an accident. Doing the right thing can keep everyone safe, and can help protect you in the event of possible lawsuits. Here, the law firm of Herrig & Vogt outlines the most common causes of crashes and what commercial drivers should do at the scene of an accident.
Common Causes of Accidents
A comprehensive report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that the most common causes of vehicle crashes included:
- Distracted Driving
- Driver Fatigue
- Drug & Alcohol Impairment
Unfortunately, even truck and van drivers who implement safe driving tips to avoid accidents may still fall victim to the actions of other motorists. Here are six things commercial drivers should do at the scene of an accident.
1. Stop & Do Not Leave the Scene
The first thing for any driver to do after an accident is stop the vehicle. Turn off your truck or van’s engine and activate its emergency flashers. Unless you know that someone has already called them, call the police and report the accident. Give as clear a description of your location as possible when calling 911. Do not, under any circumstances, leave the scene of an accident. It is a criminal offense in most states to leave the scene of a crash that caused personal injuries or property damage.
2. Stay Calm & Check for Injuries
Take a deep breath to calm down as you collect your thoughts after the shock of a crash. Do not move around until you check to make certain you have not suffered injuries that could be made worse by moving around. If you have been injured, await the arrival of police and emergency medical personnel.
If you have not been injured, check before exiting your truck to make sure it is safe. Accident scenes can be chaotic and dangerous. The last thing you want to do is step out of your truck and into the path of emergency vehicles or oncoming traffic. Once out of the vehicle, move to a safe location, but remember to not leave the scene.
3. Secure the Accident Scene
Whether your vehicle was involved in the accident or you happened to be passing and stopped to help, you should secure the accident scene. Unless the police have already set flares or taken steps to prevent other vehicles from crashing into the location of the accident, you should set flares or reflective warning devices according to federal guidelines. Failure to do so, particularly when your truck was involved, could make you responsible for secondary collisions that may occur.
4. Gather Contact Information of Drivers, Passengers, & Witnesses
Obtain the names and contact information of all drivers and occupants of the vehicles involved in the accident. Copy the information from their driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations or use the camera on your cell phone to take a photo of the documents, license plates, and vehicle identification numbers.
Do not engage in extended conversations with anyone at the scene about the accident or your injuries. Accidents happen so quickly and violently that the drivers and occupants of the vehicles rarely know what caused them. It may take a thorough investigation before the cause of a crash can be determined, so do not admit fault or make any statements at the scene.
5. Take Photos of the Scene
The position of the vehicles immediately after a crash along with the damage done to each of them may help to prove the cause of a crash. The camera on your cell phone allows you to preserve the accident scene and the evidence it contains with photographs. Snap away and do not worry about having too many images. When taking photos of the crash scene, keep the following tips in mind:
- Take pictures of everything and from as many angles as possible.
- Do not forget to photograph the interior of the vehicles in addition to pictures of the exteriors and use the flash on the camera to avoid missing details of dark areas.
- Step back to get panoramic-type shots of the entire scene from all angles.
- Take closeups of skid marks, debris, vehicle parts and other items that may be on the ground.
- Photos of nearby buildings may prove helpful later to locate people who may have witnessed the accident and video of the crash taken by surveillance cameras.
6. Report the Accident
You must immediately file a report of the accident. This is accomplished by contacting your employer or, if you own the vehicle, by notifying your insurance company. Failure to immediately file an accident report could negatively affect your employment or your insurance claims.
Conclusion: We hope you never have to experience a crash while on the road, but if you do, following these tips can help protect you from physical and legal dangers. And if you’re looking for your next truck or van, be sure to check out the nationwide selection of for-sale vehicles on CommercialTruckTrader.com or our sister site NextTruckOnline.com.
Written by Steve Howards from the law firm Herrig & Vogt.
This content is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute or otherwise provide any legal advice. Further, the information contained in this content represents the opinion of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of any other individual attorney or any law firm. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice regarding any particular issue or problem.