One of the biggest risks restoration contractors face – especially from a claims standpoint is auto-related insurance claims. Costs for an auto accident can quickly dwarf any other type of claim you may encounter.
Below are our top tips to help your company avoid potential auto disasters:
Drivers must maintain a safe following distance, at all speeds and in all locations. Low speed rear end bumps are endemic at stoplights. Always allow ample stopping distances. Remain well back from whatever is ahead of you.
Protect your rear! Other drivers will quickly become impatient with slow moving vehicles ahead of them. Your driver needs to position themselves defensively in traffic to avoid becoming an obstacle to four-wheelers. Use headlights, signals, strobe lights and brake lights to warn or alert other drivers. Adding a warning decal advising ‘Stay Back’ or ‘Do No Tailgate’ on the rear can help a bit.
Choose your battles. Whenever possible, avoid routing vehicles through congested areas. Move the vehicle in early morning or wait until rush hour is over. The extra bucks you spend on drivers’ time is nothing compared with the cost of a claim. Interstate highways are the safest routes. Two-lane, undivided highways are at the opposite extreme. If you can avoid the two-lane, by all means, do it. And be sure to allow sufficient time for a driver to make the run. Do not encourage them to push it.
If necessary, clean the vehicle before it moves off site. We’ll give you credit for loading it safely and securing it properly when it leaves your yard, but vehicles leaving a muddy work site are a different story. Operators must ensure the machine is as clean as possible before it goes on the ramps.
Watch what is in front of you when stopped. Specifically, right under your nose. Small cars, cyclists, pedestrians, flaggers may be obscured by the hood profile of the rig.
Park defensively! Drivers need to THINK before parking. Direct and remind your driver to park well away from other vehicles. When safely parked, it is good practice to place a cone at rear, forcing the driver to check their perimeter before moving. Defensive parking also includes parking in such a way as to avoid the need to back up.
Lights on at all times. The human eye is light seeking. Take advantage of this and make it easier for other drivers to see you. Most drivers are essentially lazy, causing them to barely peep out the corners of their eye to see approaching traffic, such as at intersections. Daytime running lights help identify your rig under all lighting conditions, including broad daylight.
Avoid night time driving. The statistics are not favorable. About 30% of all driving is done at night, but darkness accompanies more than 60% of fatal crashes. Impaired, fatigued, disoriented, distracted, take your pick, there are a host of ills accompanying night time drivers.
Worst day of the week for auto accidents? You guessed it: Saturday. By an appreciable factor. Fortunately it’s not a regular workday, but keep it in mind. Combine this with No. 8, and you should make sure everything stays parked after 9 p.m. Saturday.
Drivers’ attitude trumps traffic laws. Road-rage incidents are increasingly common. Your drivers should be showing patience and courtesy all along the way. And they should ALWAYS leave themselves an “out;” that is, avoid being boxed in by other traffic.