Preparation is the Key

August 13, 2023

by Justin Moyer

When reviewing risk management and safety across a fleet, beside promoting safe driving habits, preventing unsafe driving is the most important way to keep our drivers and others on the roadway safe.  However, even the most robust safety program cannot eliminate all risk and incidents will occur. This is why it’s important to make sure that van operators are prepared to handle what to do in these occurrences properly and professionally, so as to avoid them becoming bigger issues. While there are many of these occurrences that can pop up, two specifically come to mind as needing the most preparation.

The first is Roadside Inspections, which are a part of every van operator’s career and can occur at the whim of law enforcement, or DOT personnel at supervised weigh stations. Whether it is a full Level 1 inspection or a Level 3 “Driver Only” inspection, it is important that van operators are properly trained and prepared to follow the necessary protocols. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Have a courteous and helpful attitude towards the inspector – always!
  • Make sure that any handheld devices that are used as an ELD are mounted securely to the vehicle.
  • Are ELD operating instructions posted and is the driver knowledgeable on how to transfer the information to the inspector?
  • Is a paper logbook present?
  • Is all proper documentation needed for inspection (DOT medical card, Insurance forms, IFTA letter, Vehicle Maintenance forms, permits, lease information, etc.) contained in one place and easy to access? Are passenger authorization forms completed and present?  An up-to-date three ring CSA binder with all documentation needed for a roadside inspection, kept in the door of the tractor, is a great way to quickly give all information to the inspector and to help the inspection go smoothly.
  • Most importantly, has the van operator been keeping up with Pre- and Post-trip inspections and bringing mechanical issues to the attention of the appropriate management personnel? Are all repairs marked as completed after being made?  This will help to avoid issues that can lead to being put Out of Service (OOS) and major CSA violation points.
  • Does the driver know what to do, and who to contact, should a violation place them OOS?

The second occurrence, that should not be nearly as prevalent but is equally important to handle properly, is what to do when a motor vehicle accident occurs. Whether the event was preventable, non-preventable, the fault of the van operator, or the fault of the other party, it is very important that proper steps are followed to document and report the accident. This is usually a stressful time for a van operator, so a one-page document listing what to do in the event of an accident is helpful to have in the truck (in the front cover of the CSA binder is a great place to keep it) to help the van operator remember all the steps to follow. The details of this document should include:

  • Main and secondary points of immediate contact i.e. “Who to call first.” If the van operator is physically able, this is the most important call they will make to report the accident and to find out if a Drug/Breath alcohol test is required.
  • Certificate of Insurance and Fleet Insurance information to reference/provide.
  • Reminder to collect the Information Exchange from the responding law enforcement official.
  • Details on what information to gather from the other party.
  • Reminder to take pictures/video of any damage that occurred.
  • The company’s policy on written accident reporting and the timeline to get the information in to the proper management personnel.

Van operators are the most important part of our business. Simply put, we cannot service our customers without these professionals. It is imperative that we are helping them to be prepared while on the road to keep themselves and others safe. As we move out of the “Peak of the Peak” season (hopefully not too soon) and into the fall, now is a great time for finding areas that need refresher training. I hope everyone has great second half of your year. Stay safe!