Accident Protocol: What’s Your SOP?
The old saying rings true: hope for the best, prepare for the worst. This applies especially to the risk of accidents as a truck driver. While the best advice on accidents is to drive safely in a well-maintained truck, there are many factors that can result in accidents varying in severity and consequences. We asked our community of real truck drivers to share their best advice for what to do in an accident situation.
Each company should have their own SOP (standard operating procedure) for after an accident, so be sure to stay current on your company’s policies and requirements. Otherwise, no matter who is at fault, these tips are good to remember should you find yourself involved in an accident.
- Stop your truck and secure the scene.
Even if the accident seems minor or the other vehicle flees the scene, safely come to a complete stop as close to the scene of the accident as possible. Before you exit your cab, take a deep breath and assess yourself for any injuries. It is normal for adrenaline to rush your body into flight or fight mode after an accident, but taking a moment to compose yourself will help you remain calm and professional as you follow the remainder of the procedure. As soon as you exit your truck, place your reflectors at the regulated distance from the vehicle.
- Evaluate damages/injuries and call 911.
Check on any other drivers/vehicles involved in the crash and call 911 as soon as possible to report the accident. Roy Anderson advised: “Assess the severity of any injured.” If you are properly trained in first aid and your company permits it, offer help to other drivers if their injuries are within your skill level.
- Call your company and make the required reports.
Even if the accident seems minor, do not wait to report to your supervisor and any regulatory bodies as required by local laws or company policies. Quick and honest reports of the situation can’t hurt, but waiting or trying to let the accident “blow over” will surely have worse consequences than being upfront about what happened.
- Gather evidence and contact information.
According to drivers Josh Mascy and Duane Williams, dash cams are critical in a crash situation. Student driver Lawson Massey even stated that he was in the market for a dash cam with “decent record length with good picture” while still in school. If you have a dash cam, confirm it is still recording and undamaged in the crash. Use your smart phone or a digital camera to take thorough photos of the scene and any damage to the vehicles involved in the crash. Send them via email or store them in cloud storage as soon as possible to avoid losing the digital images in a technology mishap.
Exchange information with any other drivers involved in the crash and get contact information for any witnesses. If witnesses or other drivers try to engage you in conversation about what happened or who is at fault, do your best to professionally and calmly “plead the fifth” until you are able to speak to law enforcement and/or your company about the incident.
While we hope that you don’t have cause to refer to this type of list very often, it is wise to stay vigilant about post-accident procedures as a truck driver. Proper behavior and professional demeanor can help soften the damage to your career, your company’s reputation, and the public’s perception of the trucking industry.