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“Small” Collisions Add up to Big $$$

Two-thirds of a fleet’s collisions happen in a parking lot. Most of the time, these crashes are minor – a scratched door, a dented bumper. If they’re just scratches and dings, what’s the big deal? 

Damage to the truck might be minimal. But minor collisions have plenty of other direct and indirect costs that add up quickly. A little training on the front end can save you tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars down the line.

Box truck rear ending a car - actual course image from ClearDrive

The Most Common Parking Lot Collisions
  1. Other vehicles
  2. Narrow objects like poles
  3. Low awnings and signs

Direct Costs of Parking Lot Collisions

A typical box truck can carry about 15,000-18,000 lbs. That’s enough to do considerable damage to another object. Usually that object is another vehicle, and other vehicles, especially passenger vehicles, are expensive to repair.

When you add up the costs to repair body damage, parts and paint, even a minor collision can easily cost $2,500. And that’s before we even get to the cost of the rental car!

The direct costs of parking lot collisions are reasonably straightforward and typically include:

  • Cost to repair the vehicle or other object
  • Cost to repair the truck
  • Cost of a rental vehicle

Usually these costs add up to a few thousand dollars. There are a couple of notable exceptions: if a driver hits a gas pump or transformer, direct costs can easily be in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Distracted driving is one of the most common reasons drivers get into parking lot collisions. Train drivers in good habits to prevent crashes and reduce your risk.

 

Direct Costs Aren’t the Whole Story

Safety directors often talk about the “iceberg of safety costs.” The direct costs of a parking lot crash are easy to see, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Indirect crash costs are hidden beneath the waterline, and they’re often significant. These indirect costs can easily eclipse the direct costs by 5x or more.

Indirect costs of collisions can be 5-50 times the direct cost

Here are just a few examples of the indirect costs of parking lot collisions:

  • Termination and onboarding – If the accident is serious enough to justify termination, you’re looking at a huge investment of time and money to replace the driver. It can cost $5,000 to find and onboard a new driver.
  • Injuries, medical bills and lawsuits – When plaintiff lawyers get greedy, a collision that happened at less than 2 mph could rack up thousands upon thousands of dollars over the following weeks and months.
  • Service delays – After a collision, scheduled deliveries and pickups will be delayed, impacting customer service. Your team may even have to provide additional, uncompensated service to keep customers happy.
  • Extra operating costs  – You may need to deploy extra resources to offset any service delays caused by the collision. Overtime, additional fuel, mileage, and lost product are rarely counted in the cost of collisions, but they add up quickly.
  • DOT reportable crashes – Many parking lot accidents, especially those involving entry and exit, have the potential to be classified as a “reportable collision” by DOT. If a fleet has enough of these incidents, you can end up in “alert” status with the FMCSA. This status may force you to suddenly redirect your internal resources, staff and budgets to deal with compliance issues.

Pedestrians in a busy parking lot - actual course image from ClearDrive

Train Drivers Now, Save Money Later

The majority of parking lot collisions are 100% percent preventable, and that prevention starts with company vehicle driver training. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Provide comprehensive defensive driving training to all new hires before they’re allowed to start deliveries.
  • Offer regular reinforcing training on common issues like distracted driving, injury prevention, and seasonal issues like winter hazards.
  • Assign remedial training as soon as you know about a collision. This helps drivers learn quickly from their mistakes and reduces liability for your company because you can prove you took action to address the problem.

A small investment in training now can pay dividends for the duration of a driver’s employment with your company.

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