Your driver is safely puttering along a surface street. He's left the car ahead of him several seconds. As he shifts into 6th, a little Honda on his left changes into his lane just ahead of his bumper with no signal. Your driver quickly eases off the gas as soon as the Honda started to move over, but the Honda slams on his brakes before your driver could possibly react. WHAM! What the...?!?!
These kind of staged accidents are becoming more common, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau and Nevada Trucking Association. Over the past year, the two groups said about 100 staged crashes have targeted fleets. These sort of fraudulent accidents are obviously terribly dangerous, and can be very expensive. The goal, obviously, is for the driver to get a big payout from a fleet. But with good driver training (like our "Accident Procedures" course) on what to do after a traffic accident, you can protect your fleet.
Anticipation Helps with Avoidance
As always the best possible scenario is to avoid any accident. You want to encourage good visual search skills to anticipate the traffic around. Obviously, in the scenario above, the driver took the right steps of backing off when it looks like a vehicle will change lanes. Increasing your following distance on surface streets, and turning off cruise control are the best defense against this type of morally bankrupt behavior.
"Document, Document, Document"
But, with situations where there’s criminal intent to cause an accident, there's little a driver can do to prevent what is essentially a vehicular assault. That's why it's so critical to gather information after the collision. The driver's goal is to collect as much information as they can. "Document, document, document," said Paul Enos, NTA's president. "Gather as much information as possible and provide it to law enforcement and insurance companies." This will help your attorneys to prove that the accident was non-preventable and possibly criminal.
What To Do After a Traffic Accident
But before drivers go into CSI mode, they need to call 911 first. They need check out if there any injuries in the other vehicle so they can let the 911 operator know. After any emergencies are taken care of, and flares or triangles laid to create a safe accident scene. It's good practice to have your driver lock the truck when they get out too — if this is a fraudulent crash, you don't want the cab of the truck to get tampered with.
If you have one of the in-vehicle recording cameras, your driver should trigger the recording mechanism again to provide additional recording or force a send.
Try to get multiple witnesses if possible. The best way is to teach your driver to wave down other nearby motorists or pedestrians as soon as they can. Hopefully witnesses will stop to see if there are injuries. Witnesses will be the best non-forensic evidence of fault on the part of the other driver. They'll need to get name, address, phone number, and hopefully a brief statement on what they saw. Many smartphones let drivers take video — it can be a fast way to get the info that doesn't involve writing.
All in-truck accident kits should include a disposable camera to take pictures of the collision. Make sure to include pictures of skid marks from multiple angles. The driver should also take photos of the point of collision to help in determining speed and direction of travel of the other vehicle.
Avoid taking pictures of any injured parties — your driver isn't a journalist, they're trying to protect their way of earning a living.
It’s vital to record details while memory is still fresh: speed, distance between vehicles, whether they indicated a lane change or presence of brake lights. The insurance company and law enforcement will determine if it's criminal intent, your driver's job is to provide all the supporting material to protect himself and your company.