Reducing Vehicle Accidents
By: Matt Schiefferly
Vice President Safety Services
The largest liability facing the moving and storage industry is
motor vehicle accidents. When larger commercial vehicles are involved in accidents
the bodily injury and damage to personal property is 3 to 4 times more severe than
accidents that involve private passenger vehicles. A company that takes the time
to select the proper driver and provide the required training will reduce motor
The most important step a company can take in reducing accidents is in employee
selection. Motor vehicle records must be reviewed by all drivers at least annually,
drivers should be tested with both written and practical driving tests frequently.
To ensure compliance with state and federal laws, drivers need to complete a physical
and drug and alcohol testing on a regular basis. The DOT requirement is, testing
needs to take place on all drivers pre-employment and post accident for drug and
alcohol. 50% of drivers further need to be tested for drugs, and 10% need to be
tested for alcohol annually on a random basis. Drivers can also be tested if there
is reasonable suspicion of drug or alcohol use. The DOT also requires that each
employee subject to drug and alcohol testing be provided 1 hour of instruction on
the program, as well as what substances will be tested for.
Once the driver is hired training should be on going and occur between the driver
and his helper. Nearly 40% of all accidents occur in parking lots or while backing
a vehicle. These are the easiest accidents to control and are almost always preventable.
Drivers and helpers should work on hand signals that each are familiar with, the
helpers should also be taught where to stand so they can be seen by the driver and
where the helper can see any hazards and direct traffic when needed. A helper should
always be used in parking lots, driveways, or where obstructions hide on coming
traffic. Both the helper and driver should be aware of signal requirements while
the truck is parked. Signal triangles are required to be placed at 100 feet in both
directions and 10 feet from the rear of the vehicle, or up to 500 feet when the
vehicle is obstructed by a curve (see enclosed pictures).
While on the road the driver needs to be alert and aware of changing traffic conditions
and weather. Drivers also need to know both height and width of their vehicles.
Tree branches, building overhangs, and undercrossings cause hundreds of thousands
of dollars in trailer and truck damage every year. Helpers should always be used
in these instances. If you hear the bang or scrape then it is too late! If the driver
is involved in an accident proper training of accident investigation procedures
are critical (See Accident Investigation
Companies should consider sending drivers for additional training to one of the
National Safety Council (NSC) Defensive Driving Courses. They are excellent and
drivers can come back and share what they have learned with the entire driving force.
If you have any questions or need help with your safety and loss control programs
please contact Matt Schiefferly @ Paul Hanson Insurance Services (800) 852-1968
or e-mail Matts@Paulhanson.com. Visit
our web page for other information vital to the moving and storage industry at www.paulhanson.com.