The National Safety Council defines a preventable crash as “one in which the driver failed to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent the accident.” Many fleets use this as their standard definition when categorizing a crash, but this definition has a real problem: “Reasonable” is highly subjective. While this gives fleets some needed flexibility in categorizing crashes, this could potentially open them up to liability in the event of a lawsuit.
So there’s a necessary tension here. While fleets need flexibility in their definition because every crash is different, they also need to do everything they can to shore up their liability in the wake of increasingly common nuclear verdicts.
So how should your fleet approach this problem?
Step 1: Implement Standardized, Defensive Driving Training
From a liability perspective, your fleet is open to risk when a prosecutor can find a gap in your protocols and procedures. Because of this, you need to implement standardized, universal driver training that focuses on defensive driving. This allows you to argue in court that your drivers were trained to do everything they could to avoid a crash.
Step 2: Implement a Universal Standard for Disciplinary Action
If prosecutors uncover an instance in your records where a crash was met with a disciplinary response, but a similar crash was not, they will use that as evidence that your fleet has been negligent.
Because of this, you need to set a specific, measurable criteria for when a disciplinary action will take place that can be implemented across your fleet. Since you’ve given the same defensive driving training to all your drivers, one recommended strategy is to:
Always take disciplinary action after your driver has violated the training they’ve previously been given. This way, if your driver failed to abide by their training leading up to a crash, you are justified in marking the accident “preventable” and pursuing escalation, as there is a reasonable expectation that they could have avoided it.
This will necessitate making sure your training is comprehensive so that you cover all your bases, but your training should always be comprehensive regardless.
Step 3: Train Your Managers to Spot Failures in Training
To plug the last gap in your chain of liability, you need to ensure your managers can spot when your drivers didn’t follow their training to a tee. If managers can’t tell with sufficient accuracy when a driver abided by their training, they won’t be able to mark an accident as preventable when it’s justified.
To ensure this, you need to administer the same training to your managers that you give to your drivers. You also need to give them specialized training in spotting poor driving behavior when viewing in-cab and out-of-cab camera footage. This will ensure your managers know the training inside and out and can identify proper procedures from a third-person point of view.
Putting together a standardized process, implementing it, and sticking to it, can be a difficult process. Fortunately, the Idelic Safety Suite helps managers assign training with ease, identify at-risk drivers with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, and standardize their escalation process with a central hub for all documentation.
If you’d like to see how Safety Suite can be made to work for your fleet, watch a 2-minute demo here.
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