Commercial truck drivers cover millions of highway miles each year in the United States. These valuable workers are the lifeblood of commerce, transporting goods to every community in the nation. As such, truck drivers face many risks, including the possibility of a semi truck accident. In addition to the protection afforded by semi truck insurance, it is imperative that trucking companies and their employees know how to handle an accident. In this guide, we will show you what to do after a semi truck accident to help manage the risks.
Semi Truck Accidents: Facts and Figures
According to several published studies on the commercial trucking industry, a person is seriously injured or killed on an average of every 15 minutes due to accidents involving tractor trailers on United States roadways.
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) Highway Loss Data Institute compiles statistics from insurance claim data and from analyzing data collected by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). In 2018, the most recent year of available figures,
- 4136 people died in large truck crashes;
- 16% of fatalities were truck occupants (including drivers and passengers);
- 67% of fatalities were occupants of cars and passenger vehicles, and;
- Total truck crash fatalities were 31% higher in 2018 than in 2009, and truck occupants died at a rate 51% higher than 2009.
Higher numbers of miles traveled and risk factors like faulty equipment, driver fatigue, distracted driving, and violations of federally-mandated maximum work hours all contributed to the rise in fatalities involving semi truck accidents.
Semi Truck Accidents: Best Practices for Truck Drivers
For commercial truck drivers, the potential for a serious accident always looms large, no matter how careful a driver is behind the wheel. Knowing what to do after an accident is a powerful risk management strategy, helping to minimize the losses associated with vehicle crashes. Best practices for drivers include:
- Immediately after an accident, move vehicles off the roadway if possible and check to make sure everyone involved is safe. If vehicles are moved after the accident, it is a good idea for the truck driver to take photographs of the original position of any involved vehicles.
- The names, insurance information, and contact information of all people involved in the semi truck accident should be collected.
- Next, call the police immediately. Also summon emergency medical personnel if needed. The sooner medical help arrives, the better chance that those seriously injured can receive life-saving care. Police reports are an important part of the insurance claims process, and must be obtained regardless of the severity of a collision.
- Drivers should check any cargo for damage, leaks, or spills if possible. Leaking cargo may cause environmental damage or fires. If a hazardous leak or spill should occur, authorities should be notified at once.
- Drivers can set up temporary hazard alerts, including road flares or triangles to alert other road users of the accident. When authorities arrive, they set up roadblocks or other traffic control systems to keep motorists safe.
- Finally, drivers should call their employers, who will make arrangements with their insurance provider to file a claim. Self-employed truck drivers should contact their insurer promptly.
Truck drivers must be aware that arguments about who is at fault or admitting fault to law enforcement officials may be damaging from a defense perspective. State laws vary regarding fault in motor vehicle collisions. Every trucking company has its own policies regarding what truckers should or should not do in an accident, and this may include truckers not making statements or signing documents until company managers have had time to review the circumstances behind the collision.
Semi truck accidents can be chaotic; with training and a thorough understanding of what to do after a crash, truck drivers can do their part to minimize the losses associated with roadway collisions. By adopting these trucking industry best practices, truck drivers can better protect themselves and others.
About Gain Insurance Agency
Gain Insurance Agency protects trucking businesses against liabilities and claims in the industry. We combine products provided by respected insurance providers with our expertise and custom packages to meet customers’ individual needs. Our goal is to give you the coverage that you need at the lowest possible price. To learn more about our products and services, contact us today at (877) 424-3344.