Improve accident reporting and documentation - for better compliance

How to make accident reporting more efficient for better compliance and least fatalities? read along!

How to make accident reporting more efficient for better compliance and least fatalities? read along!

According to some estimates, about 30% of the truck accidents go unreported - for reasons that span embarrassment, guilt and fear of retribution.

It’s human nature to avoid delivering bad news to the higher-ups. But we know, and research in psychology corroborates: it is always better to mention the specific details of the event to escape from the worst, rather than to be ambiguous about it. It shows confidence and makes it easier for the higher authority to take some action.

In this article we look at:

  1. What’s wrong with how accident reporting is done today

  2. How accident reporting should be done

  3. Strategic steps to improve reporting habits

What’s wrong with how accident reporting is done today :

1. Truck drivers don’t report all accidents the way they should

With the fear of being accused of the accident, or being told to bear the costs, truck drivers sometimes feel okay to not report minor accidents. They might also believe that if the accident was small, it is not “that big of a deal” to be reporting things to supervisors.

2. With the fear of being not understood, they try to hide behind the bush

When an accident happens, drivers tend to not let the details out. One reason for this could be the lack of trust with the driver managers or supervisors for understanding their situations and being charged for or yelled at.

3. The company doesn’t have a process to it

The first action in the process of accident reporting is mostly calling the maintenance department or manager. But it is risky, as the call might not be answered or the information might not be accurately logged .

Without a process, it is difficult to establish a relationship with the driver as soon as the accident occurs. This leaves supervisors with no organized data to analyse and design future steps to prevent it.

How accident reporting should be done:

Prioritize gathering important information

After making sure that the injured gets medical attention, the driver should note down date, time, and the location of accident. They should take pictures of everything, and have logs of vehicles involved, their license plate numbers, and the number of people involved should be reported. This is important because it's usually too late to obtain the much-needed information after the police arrive. Claims tend to be settled at a lower cost when reported immediately and with complete information.

Report to the company immediately:

In addition to filling out the DOT form, drivers should submit the gathered details in a simple electronic form.

That’s because electronic records can’t be tampered with and lends itself to authenticity, something that insurance companies hold dear.  

For this, there needs to be a medium through which the driver can contact the related company officials after an accident, immediately.

How to improve reporting habits:

Simply put, the management has to design practices that helps drivers overcome mental barriers related to reporting. For this, companies should:

Have a direct line of communication with drivers

When it comes to stressful situations - chats hold a clear advantage. They have changed conversational behaviours by giving people (in this case the driver-managers) an opportunity to think and respond, instead of just reacting to a piece of information.

It is advised that driver managers use this medium to encourage conversations with drivers and tear down the mental barriers. This conditioning will, over time, help them come forth honestly about accidents and breakdowns.

Have simple reporting mechanism that saves time and energy for drivers

Provide a simple easy-to-use electronic form that does not need a learning curve for your drivers. The faster they can convey the information, the better it is for your company.

Emphasize on good reporting habits

It is the responsibility of the supervisor or driver manager to keep reminding the truck drivers to report the accidents.

It could be done actively through a simple phone call, or passively: by sending regular updates to a group of drivers.

Having an open channel with drivers, enhances trust and builds a strong relationship. The fear of retribution gets replaced by responsibility and a sense of ownership.

And ultimately, it leads to better CSA scores and lower claims for your company.