Accidents are in every driver and carrier’s mind. Drivers want to prevent accidents at all costs to avoid any repercussions on their licenses, job status, and paycheck. For carriers, the same is true; they want their drivers to complete their routes safely and successfully. However, preventing accidents is not the driver’s sole responsibility but those they share the road with.
A crash is considered “an occurrence involving a commercial motor vehicle in interstate or intrastate commerce in which: a vehicle was towed from the scene; a fatality occurred, or a person was injured and required immediate medical treatment” according to the FMCSA.
Truck accidents can be catastrophic, both for the people and the trucking companies involved. As much as drivers and carriers work to avoid crashes, accidents still happen. During those times it’s incredibly important to stay calm and know how to proceed afterward.
Here we present a review of the post-accident process and post-accident drug testing protocols according to the DOT.
THE FIRST STEP: The first thing to do is always check the scene to ensure everyone involved in the accident is safe, conscious, and breathing normally. Once the status of the people involved has been determined, notify the authorities as soon as possible. Whether the accident is small, just a touch, or evidently severe, call the authorities and get medical help as needed.
REPORT TO DISPATCH: While you are waiting for the authorities, protect the area with hazard warning lights and other visual indicators to prevent further accidents. Contact Dispatch and report the accident, giving as much detail as possible to ensure the company gets a clear picture of what happened. Take pictures from different angles showing multiple sides of the point of collision and make detailed sketches of the accident scene. Something important to remember is that drivers should never admit any fault or apologize. Apologies can be interpreted as an admission of guilt.
POST-ACCIDENT RECORD KEEPING: Carriers must keep a record of all crashes that occur in the previous 3 years to stay compliant with article 49 CFR 390.5T. For this reason, it’s imperative that drivers and carriers record all the information about the crash appropriately including the date, city, and state in which the accident occurred, the driver’s name, the number of injuries and fatalities, whether hazardous materials, other than fuel were released. A copy of the vehicle accident report and of all accident reports required by governmental entities or insurers. All documents related to the load being transported at the time of the accident. Driver’s record of status of duty, and truck and trailer maintenance records for the past 12 months
POST-ACCIDENT TESTING: Additionally, drivers need to get tested for drugs and alcohol after a crash that involves human fatalities, injuries that required immediate medical treatment or they received a moving violation citation, and disabling damage to any motor vehicle where a tow away was required. Aside from a fatality, drivers are not required to test unless it is determined that they were at fault for the accident. If necessary, alcohol tests must be completed within 8 hours, and drug tests must be completed within 32 hours.
It’s imperative and useful for carriers and drivers to know what to do at the time of an accident to prevent any violations of process in the eyes of the FMCSA. Even though an FMCSA audit can happen at any time, an accident might “red-flag” the organization for inspection. If post-accident procedures are not followed appropriately, significant financial fines may be imposed.
Understanding DOT post-accident regulations can be difficult. Allow our team of DOT Compliance experts to assist you in understanding and carrying out any required activities related to DOT!
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