Accidents Happen

Sharon Koehler

Artistic Stone Design

All employees who drive a company vehicle should have a valid license, know where in the vehicle the registration and insurance papers are kept, and know who to contact in the event of an accident.

All employees who drive a company vehicle should have a valid license, know where in the vehicle the registration and insurance papers are kept, and know who to contact in the event of an accident.

Last fall I wrote a piece about customer accidents in the workplace: what to do, what not to do, etc. BUT, what about accidents that happen outside the workplace? They do happen.

Earlier this year, a friend of mine had a crew coming back from an out of town job, driving a company truck, and they got rear ended. The crew was deemed not liable and the guy that hit them got the ticket and the summons. However, as it turns out, there were some panicked moments because the crew wasn’t sure what to do, who to call, or even where the registration and insurance information for the truck was. It also came to light at a later date that the crew member driving the company truck had a suspended license and wasn’t supposed to be driving at all. If the situation had been reversed, and the company truck had done the rear ending with an unlicensed driver at the wheel, I hate to think about the mess this would have created.  

The point to all this is you should be prepared. Make sure all your employees are prepared as well, and know what to do should they ever be involved in an accident, whether it’s their fault or not. When I say all employees, I mean all employees, not just the handful that actually drive company vehicles. As it turns out, the crew member that usually drives that truck didn’t feel well and asked his partner to drive (not knowing his partner didn’t have a license). 

When you hire someone new, check their driving record. You can ask them to provide it. Usually they can get their driving record from a local DMV. If they say no, then that person under NO circumstances can drive a company vehicle. Some insurance companies advise that you check your employee’s driving records once a year. Employees don’t always tell you when they get in trouble. Someone could be driving a company vehicle who shouldn’t be. No one needs that headache if there is an accident. 

Have procedures in place for when there is an accident. Obviously they need to call 911 first. Then their company to let them know what happened. But who should they talk to? Make a clear, concise contact list with names and phone numbers in the order they should call. If they need to contact their immediate supervisor, his/her name should be first on the list with a phone number. If they cannot reach that person, then they need to move on to the second person on the list, then the third person, etc. You get the idea.  Make sure everyone knows where the list is in the vehicle.  Keep the list updated, as employees leave,  change positions in the company or get new cell phone or home phone numbers.

Another thing the driver and passenger(s) need to know is where the paperwork (registration and insurance information) for the vehicle is kept. Is it in the glove box? The center console? Clipped to a sun visor? Some other secure place? All of this information—the registration, insurance information and call list—should all be together in one place. 

Our insurance company gives us red, plastic holders that we can slip all this information into so there is no trouble finding it if needed. In lieu of that, maybe just a bright-
colored envelope or file that will be easy to spot if necessary. Make it easy to find.

Remember, sometimes in accident situations, people can panic or get flustered. Or, possibly they are injured and the police have to look for this information. Keep the information in the same place for all company vehicles. If it is clipped to a sun visor in one truck or car, it should be clipped to the sun visor in all company trucks/cars. 

Along with all vehicle and insurance information, some companies keep blank accident reports in company trucks and cars. These can be basic or very detailed depending on the company. What they do is help the driver and/or passenger (if they are able) tell their company what happened before their memory fades in the months to come. It can be as simple as the time and date of the accident and who was involved, or it can be much more detailed. 

No one ever wakes up in the morning and says, “Gee, I think I will have a car accident today.” Sometimes life just jumps up and bites you in the butt! When that happens, just make sure your employees know what to do and how to handle it. That just makes it easier for everybody.

Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at