The importance of the driver’s role in business has resulted in the development of standards for driver selection, training and supervision. To give the driver an incentive to do the best job possible, these standards could be supplemented by an award program designed to recognize good performance.
The Safe Driver Award Program recognizes drivers who have proven their skill in avoiding accidents. This standard of performance, when effectively communicated and understood by both drivers and management, becomes a logical, fair and workable basis for recognizing a personal contribution to safe driving.
To ensure that all personnel -- drivers and management alike -- understand the ways in which an award can be attained and to keep interest in the awards at a peak, the following rules and procedures must be established.
Eligible drivers include all who regularly use a company owned or operated vehicle. To receive an award, the driver must drive for a period of 12 consecutive months without involvement in a preventable accident.
Accurate driver records must be maintained on each individual driver.
Computing Safe Driver Time
Under the Safe Driver Award Program, a safe driving performance is divided into two periods: Phase A and Phase B.
During Phase A, a driver will be presented with a safe driver award based on the following performance:
One-Year Award -- Twelve (12) consecutive months of driving without a preventable accident.
Two-Year Award -- Twenty-four (24) consecutive months of driving without a preventable accident.
Three-Year Award -- Thirty-six (36) consecutive months of driving without a preventable accident.
During Phase A, any time a driver has a preventable accident, he/she starts over again trying to accumulate 36 consecutive months of driving time without a preventable accident. In other words, a driver may earn a One-Year or Two-Year Award any number of times if he/she has a preventable accident before earning a Three-Year Award. When a driver has achieved 35 consecutive months of preventable accident-free driving, he/she enters Phase B of the program.
During Phase B of the award plan, a driver is penalized 12 months of driving time for each preventable accident sustained. This may be calculated from the earned date of the last award or from the date of the accident.
(From the earned date of the last award.) A driver earned a Three-Year Award January 1st. If the driver goes 12 months without a preventable accident, he/she will earn a Four-Year Award, on the following January 1st. If the driver has a preventable accident before earning a Four-Year Award, he/she is penalized 12 months of driving time. The driver will earn a Four -Year Award 24 months from the date the Three-Year Award was earned. For each preventable accident, the next higher award is delayed one year as a penalty.
(From the date of the driver preventable accident.) A driver earned a Three-Year Award January 1st. If the driver goes 12 months without a preventable accident, he/she will earn a Four-Year Award, on the following January 1st. But, if the driver has a preventable accident before earning a Four-Year Award, he/she will not receive a Four -Year Award until one year after the date of the preventable accident.
Drivers with Safe Driver Award records do not lose their accumulated safe driving time because of assignment to jobs that do not require the operation of a motor vehicle. Any record accumulated prior to such assignment is continued upon return to driving duty.
Credit For Previous Safe Driver Time
Recognize safe driving time accumulated while working for previous employers, under the following conditions:
If an employee received a Safe Driver Award from previous employers, these awards can be used as a basis for computing current status. To become eligible for a continuing Safe Driver Award, the application for employment must show the complete driving history. Dates of all accidents(whether preventable or not) incurred by the driver must be shown. A description of each accident must be indicated to determine how they affect the driving record.
The fact that a driver’s previous employer did not have a Safe Driver Award program or did not receive an award does not prevent that driver from receiving recognition for prior safe driving time. Such previous safe driving time can be computed if accurate records from previous employers show dates of employment, separation and all accidents. A description of each accident must accompany the letter so that the present employer can judge the accidents according to Safe Driver Award rules.
Companies applying for Safe Driver Award for the first time may compute drivers records in the following manner:
A. Safe driving time may be computed from a date more than one year previous to the effective date of the insurance policy inception date, based on complete records.
B. When previous records and accident reports are not available to support certification, drivers may start accumulating safe driving time towards an award as of the effective date of the insurance contract or any date thereafter that is chosen and for which complete records are available.
A complete accident reporting program is a necessity. Examination of Accident Reports over the years reveals that many lack basic information and essential details and facts. This is a result of poor training and discipline in accident reporting. The problem is perpetuated when safety and management personnel accept obviously sketchy and incomplete Accident Investigation reports. Instead, such reports should be returned to the person responsible for their preparation as many times as it is necessary to get the essential information.
Employers should also make every effort to secure prompt, thorough and accurate Accident Investigation Reports on all accident reporting. Time spent in proper accident reporting is a sound investment in accident prevention.
When as accident is reported by a driver, a determination must be made by a designated company official or accident Review Board as to whether the accident was preventable by the company driver involved.
A preventable accident is any occurrence involving a company owed or operated vehicle which results in property damage and/or personal injury, regardless of who was injured, what property was damaged, to what extent or where it occurred, in which the driver in question failed to do everything he/she reasonably could have done to prevent it. The following paragraphs are offered as a guide in determining the preventability of accidents.
A Guide to Determining the Preventability of Accidents
The Recognition Program is designed to recognize expert safe driving performance, not just average performance. It is based on the concept of defensive driving -- the ability to avoid accidents in spite of the wrong actions of the other driver and in spite of adverse driving conditions.
Accidents involve so many different factors that it is impossible to set hard, fast rules to classify them as preventable or non-preventable. Management must make this determination. In making these decisions, management will answer the question, “What standard of safe driving performance do we expect of our drivers in this company?” If a company is lenient, it condones a mediocre standard of safe driving performance. Drivers respect a strict interpretation of the rules so long as the company takes the time and effort to ensure that these interpretations are made consistently and impartially.
It is the responsibility of all drivers to approach, enter and cross intersections prepared to avoid accidents that might occur through the action of other drivers. Complex traffic movement, blind intersections, or failure of the other driver to law or traffic control devices will not automatically discharge an accident as “non-preventable.”
Intersection accidents are preventable even though the driver has not violated traffic regulations. His/her failure to take precautionary measures prior to entering the intersection are factors to be studied in making a decision. When a driver crosses as intersection and the obvious actions of the other indicate possible involvement either by reason of excess speed, crossing a lane in turning, or coming from behind a blind spot, the decision based on such entrapment should be preventable.
Practically all backing accidents are preventable. A driver is not relieved of the responsibility to back safety when a guide is involved in the maneuver. A guide cannot control the movement of the vehicle, therefore, a driver must check all clearance personally.
3. Front end Collisions
Regardless of the abrupt or unexpected stop of the vehicle ahead, your driver can prevent accident by maintaining a safe following distance at all times. This includes being prepared for possible obstructions on the highway, either in plain view or hidden by the crest of a hill or the curve of a roadway. Overdriving headlights at night is a common cause of front end collisions. Night speed should not be greater than that which will permit the vehicle to come to a stop within the forward distance illuminated by the vehicle’s headlights.
4. Rear End Collisions
Investigations will often disclose that a driver risked being struck from behind by failing to maintain a margin of safety in his/her own following distances. Rear end collisions preceded by a roll back, an abrupt stop at a grade crossing, when a traffic signal changes, or when your driver fails to signal a turn at an intersection should be charged preventable. Failure to signal intentions or to slow down gradually should be considered preventable.
Failure to pass safely indicates faulty judgment and the possible failure to consider one or more of the important factors a driver must observe before attempting the maneuver. Unusual actions of the driver being passed or of oncoming traffic might appear to exonerate a driver involved in a passing accident; however, the entire passing maneuver is voluntary and the driver’s responsibility.
6. Being Passed
Sideswipes and cut-offs involving a driver while being passed are preventable when the driver fails to yield to the passing vehicle by slowing down or moving to the right where possible.
7. Lane Encroachment
A safe driver is rarely a victim of entrapment by another driver when changing lanes. Similarly, entrapment in merging traffic is an indication of unwillingness to yield to other vehicles or to wait for a break in traffic. Blind spots are not valid excuses for lane encroachment accidents.
8. Grade Crossings
Collisions with fixed rail vehicles, such as trains, rail maintenance vehicles, etc., occurring at grade crossings, in traffic, in a rail yard, switch area or on private property are the responsibility of the driver to prevent. When a vehicle is parked across a rail siding, the driver must first determine if it is safe and permissible and, furthermore, must stand by in case conditions change by movement of rail cars during the parking interval.
9. Opposing Vehicles
It is extremely important to check the action of the company driver when involved in a head-on or sideswipe accident with a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. Exact location of vehicles, prior to and at the point of impact, must be carefully verified. Even though an opposing vehicle enters your driver’s traffic lane, it may be possible for your driver to avoid the collision.
For example, if the opposing vehicle was in a passing maneuver and your driver failed t slow down, stop or move to right to allow the vehicle to re-enter its own lane, your driver has failed to take action to prevent the occurrence. Failing to signal the opposing driver by flicking the headlights or sounding the horn should also be taken into account.
Turning movements, like passing maneuvers, require the most exacting care by a professional driver. Squeeze plays at left or right turns involving other vehicles, scooters, bicycles or pedestrians are the responsibility of the driver making the turn. Failure to signal, to properly position the vehicle for the turn, to check the rearview mirrors, to check pedestrian lanes or to take any other defensive action should be considered. Sudden turns by other drivers should be carefully examined.
11. Passenger Accidents
Passenger accidents in any type of vehicle are preventable when they are caused by faulty operation of the vehicle. Even though the incident did not involve a collision of the vehicle, it must be considered preventable when your driver stops, turns or accelerates abruptly. Emergency action by the company driver to avoid a collision that results in passenger injury should be checked to determine if proper driving prior to the emergency would have eliminated the need for the evasive maneuver.
Traffic regulations and court decisions generally favor the pedestrian hit by a moving vehicle. An unusual route of a pedestrian at mid-block or from between parked vehicles does not necessarily relieve a driver from taking precautions to prevent such accidents. Whether speed limits are posted or the area is placarded with warning signs, speed too fast for conditions may be involved. School zones, residential streets and other areas with special pedestrian traffic must be traveled at reduced speeds equal to the particular situation. Bicycles, motor scooters and similar equipment are generally operated by young and inexperienced operators.
The driver, who fails to reduce speed when this type of equipment is operated within sight distance, has failed to take the necessary precaution to prevent an accident. Keeping within posted speed limits is not taking the proper precaution when unusual conditions call for voluntary reduction of speed.
Adverse weather conditions are not a valid excuse for being involved in an accident. Rain, snow, fog, sleet or icy pavement have never caused an accident. These conditions merely increase the hazards of driving. Failure to adjust driving to the prevailing weather conditions, or to “call it a day” when necessary, should be cause for deciding an accident preventable. Failure to use safety devices such as skid chains, sanders, etc., provided by the company should be cause for a preventable decision when it is reasonable to expect the driver to use such devices.
14. Alleys, Driveways
Accidents involving traffic origination from alleys, driveways, plant entrances and other special intersecting locations should be carefully analyzed to determine what measures the professional driver might have taken to avoid the occurrence. Failure to slow down, sound a warning or to yield to the other driver can be considered cause to judge an accident preventable.
15. Fixed Objects
Collisions with fixed objects are preventable. They usually involve failure to check or properly judge clearances. New routes, strange delivery points, resurfaced pavements under viaducts, inclined entrances to docks, marquees projecting over a traveled section of road and similar situations are not, in themselves, valid reasons for excusing a driver being involved. The driver must be constantly on the lookout for such conditions to avoid accidents in which they are involved.
16. Private Property
When a driver is expected to make deliveries at unusual locations, constructions sites, etc., or on driveways not built to support heavy commercial vehicles, it is the driver’s responsibility to discuss the operation with the proper authorities and to obtain permission prior to entering the area.
Unconventional parking locations, including double parking, failure to put out warning devices, etc., generally constitute evidence for judging an accident preventable.
Roll-away accidents from a parked position normally should be classified preventable. This includes unauthorized entry into an unlocked and unattended vehicle, failure to properly block wheels or to turn wheels toward the curb o prevent vehicle movement.
18. Mechanical Failure
Any accident caused by mechanical failure that reasonably could have been detected by the driver, but went unheeded, should be judged preventable. It is the driver’s responsibility to report unsafe vehicle conditions for repairs and to obtain immediate repairs where continued operation might result in an accident. When mechanical difficulties occur unexpectedly during a trip, and a driver, upon discovery, fails to check with his/her company for emergency instructions prior to an accident, the accident is preventable.
Many accidents, such as overturning, jack-knifing, or running off the road, may result from emergency action by the driver to prevent being involved in a collision. Examination of the driving practice prior to the incident may reveal speed too fast for conditions. The company driver’s actions prior to involvement should be examined for possible errors or lack of defensive driving practice.
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