Given the amount of miles truck drivers run, the number of blind backs, poor docks, tight spots and job sites truckers have to deal with it’s not really a matter of “if” you have an accident, but when.
We’re talking about small minor incidents and accidents like taking out a fence or mailbox. Sometimes the damage will be clear and visible, other times there may appear to be no damage at all. On rare occasion, you may not even realize that your trailer has come into contact with something, creating even larger complications in your life.
Regardless of how or where it happened you are required to be professional and responsible.
Report and Document the Incident
Regardless of how minor the accident, you should report it to the property owner and to your company. Take a few minutes to write out a quick incident report and take pictures even if there is no visible damage. This is for your protection should there be a false claim of damage. Without pictures it is hard to prove that you didn’t cause the damage or prove the extent of the damage. If you leave the scene without reporting it, you’re in an even weaker position to dispute a false claim.
You should contact your company to report the incident even if there isn’t any damage. If an issue arises later on, your company shouldn’t be caught off guard; at least they will be aware of the incident and it’ll be on record.
Never Leave the Scene of an Accident
Leaving the scene of an accident can have serious consequences. Once you leave the scene of an accident, the police will be involved. Leaving the scene carries heavy fines, will go on your driver’s record, and will negatively affect the safety profile of your company. There have been instances when a truck driver unknowingly and accidentally took out a stop sign while make a hard right turn; he was pulled over a block away and ticketed for leaving the scene of an accident. Another example, and probably more common, is accidentally backing into or hitting a parked car in tight lots and during blind backs. It is not always possible to find the owner of the vehicle, but you are still responsible for reporting it to your company and leaving a note with the appropriate information.
While it’s undesirable to have an accident, we know that it is impossible to avoid forever. When it happens make sure that you act professionally and be responsible. It is unacceptable for a driver to put themselves and their company at odds with the law in the process.