Tractor-trailer Pileup!



At 5AM on December 19, one of the first ‘pileups’ of the winter began. This one was on Eastbound I-90, Missoula, Montana, near mile marker 58, involving not one or two trucks—but a total of 5 tractor-trailers, resulting in fatal injuries for two of the drivers, including one who may have jumped over the side of the bridge, falling over 100 feet. In addition to the drivers who were hurt or killed, a first responder was seriously injured as well.

Lessons Learned . . .

  1. Slow down. It’s winter.
  2. Don’t overdrive your headlights. It may take longer to stop.
  3. It is generally safer to stay in the vehicle, if on a bridge.
  4. Expect bridges to be icy. Be ready . . . slow down some more.
  5. Expect rapid changes in conditions as the seasons change
  6. Expect the unexpected. This sounds cliche, even sounds dumb, but the minute you let your guard down you become a passenger, not a driver.

Job number 1 . . . 2 . . . and 3 is to always arrive safely at your destination.

Winter is here. Drive for conditions. ■

Picture of John Taratuta

John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599


Distracted & Deadly . . .

Distracted driver crashed into stopped tracffic

Zombie Driver . . .

It was the start of an ordinary day. Traffic on eastbound Hwy. 13 was stopped for a red light at the Washburn Avenue intersection in Burnsville, Minnesota. Little did four people know they would be involved in a serious crash that would send two of them to the hospital for treatment for injuries.

Rear-end collisions are a fairly common occurrence, about 28% of all crashes, according to the NTSB. For 2016, the last year with complete data, “Large Truck Rear-Ending Passenger Vehicle” were the cause of 4.5% of fatal collisions involving a truck (FMCSA).

This collision is unusual in two respects:

  • The crash was caught on video
  • Bad as it was, the crash could have been much, much worse

Posted by Pat Nelson on Friday, September 7, 2018


Ninety-seven percent of vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck in 2016 were occupants of the passenger vehicles.  Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Lessons Learned

  1. Drivers of large vehicles need to be trained. And trained in emergency procedures, to include knowing when to swerve to avoid a collision. This topic is beyond the scope of the CDL manual and needs to be covered at the company level. Drivers need to be completely indoctrinated in executing proper procedures in an emergency situation. Advanced training can include attendance at a truck skid school to practice what was discussed.
  2. Savvy fleet owners invest in collision-avoidance technology. As there are many older trucks on the road, the age of the vehicle is no excuse with new systems as Forward Collision Warning (FCW) from Mobileye, which can be mounted on any vehicle. The deployment in the 1990s of the rear-center stop light resulted in a decrease in read-end collisions, so technology can make a difference.
  3. Automobile drivers need to stay about 100 feet (7 car lengths) behind any stopped truck and use their warning flashers to get the attention of the drivers behind them, paying attention to traffic that might not stop. Then, after several vehicles stop behind their vehicle, close the gap with the truck ahead.

Thank you for reading this.

Picture of John Taratuta

John Taratuta, Safety & Risk Engineer, 989-474-9599

Rear-end Collision . . . Averted (Almost)

Avoiding a rear-end collision

Life is Good

I occasionally watch Life is Good, an owner-operator and YouTuber, for his insights and adventures. He employs commentary driving during his videos, explaining what’s going on and how he handles the situation.

In his video We almost DIE and KILL the four wheelers going down Fancy Gap, (starting at 12:00), he shows a typical situation where cars bunch up around a slower vehicle. He spots the slower vehicles from afar and starts to slow down.

But despite his efforts in anticipating the slower traffic, he wasn’t ready for a vehicle in front of him really slowing down to allow vehicles into the left lane. This resulted in the truck making a quick lane change and what is known as a “hard-braking” incident.

He analyzes what happened (13:24) and later concludes he “was prepared, but not prepared enough.”

Rear-End Collisions and Trucking

Rear-end collisions occur frequently in trucking, about 18% of truck crashes each year. Although the crash may not be the fault of the truck, any crash involvement is documented, affects CSA scores and appears on your loss runs. There are instances (in some jurisdictions) of the trucking company being made to pay for the crash, if the other vehicle has no insurance.

Most collisions can be avoided. Sometimes the solution is training (defensive driving, commentary driving, driver coaching, etc.). Sometimes the solution is deployment of technology (automatic braking, collision avoidance systems, etc.). Sometimes it is simply old-fashioned accident analysis and removal of the 1% of “accident prone” drivers or remediation of excellent drivers who are in need of a little help.

Whatever the solution applied, it’s time to increase all of your drivers’ vigilance in moving traffic. The most dangerous mile of road is always the mile ahead.

Thank you for reading this.

All opinions expressed are my own and may not reflect the views of any companies or organizations I work with.

Safety Belts, Safety Belts, Safety Belts . . .

driver ejected, critical conditionDo You Have a Seat-Belt Policy?

The windshield shows some damage from the driver’s head, but is otherwise intact. The side window next to the steering wheel is missing, so one can assume the driver was not wearing his safety belt when he was ejected through the window . . .

In the course of a loss-prevention survey I will ask insureds if they have a seat-belt policy. Of course, everyone says they do, the policy in writing, and that the driver has acknowledged the policy.

. . . and then we move on to the next question.

Saturday, Jan 21, 2017–Three men, who were not wearing seatbelts, were thrown from the truck onto the median in the crash on Saturday.

Three men, who were not wearing seat belts, were thrown from the truck onto the median in the crash on Saturday. Boston Globe

“1 killed, 2 injured in Plymouth truck crash”

A 47-year-old North Reading man was killed and two other men were seriously injured when a freight truck flipped over in the median of Route 25 in Plymouth on Saturday afternoon, State Police said.

The driver of the truck, a 30-year-old man from Peabody, and a passenger, a 24-year-old Revere man, were taken to Tobey Hospital in Wareham with serious injuries, according to the State Police.

The three men, who were not wearing seatbelts, were thrown from the truck onto the median, said Lieutenant Tom Ryan, a State Police spokesman.

This second photo is from another truck crash, on the same day (this past weekend), in which all three occupants were ejected from the vehicle, one fatally.

None of these employees wore a safety belt, and all paid a dear price for that omission. So will their company, not only in disrupted operations, but in the form of higher insurance premiums, damage to reputation, and loss of good will.

Just the Facts . . .

Certainly these are both bad wrecks, and not all of the facts are in yet . . . but would the outcome have been different if everyone was wearing a seat belt? Would the belted driver(s) have remained in the seat in a manner to sustain control of the vehicle, enough to avoid a more serious crash and subsequent serious injuries? Would have wearing a safety belt made a life or death difference?

One big difference we know for sure from driver studies, is that drivers who do not wear their safety belts are considered risky drivers. They may have other bad habits . . . like speeding and not following the rules.

Drivers who do not wear a safety belt self-identify as the bad-boys of the transportation industry.

Is that who you want driving for you?

Thank you for reading this.

Roundabout Dangers

roundabout crash

The Wheel of Misfortune

It was 9 AM on a Monday morning when the 58 year-old driver of a 2000 Freightliner pulling doubles approached the westbound Business U.S. 10 roundabout, near Midland, Michigan.

The driver didn’t slow enough before the roundabout. Losing control, he flipped the tractor and lead trailer upside down. His foot was pinned under the dash, but fortunately he was freed by the Midland Fire Department with only minor injuries.

West Business 10 roundabout crash

The Next Big Thing

Roundabouts are one of the latest ‘big things’ in road design. Roundabouts are promoted by the DOT as an overall safer means to connect traffic flows by eliminating left turns and the need to make stops.

Safer does not mean accident free. Some of the insurance carriers I work with are experiencing some large claims involving roundabouts, and motor carriers are advised to develop new driver training objectives for negotiating roundabouts.

What is a Roundabout?

A roundabout consists of a central island, usually surrounded by an apron (truck apron), and one to two lane carriageway (circulatory roadway). The spokes or lanes of the carriageway (the legs) are divided by splitter islands.

Parts of a roundabout

Other Features

  • Traffic travels counterclockwise around the center island.
  • Roundabouts come in all shapes and sizes, not only circular. Some are oval-shaped, teardrop-shaped, peanut-shaped, and dogbone-shaped.
  • Some have as few as three legs. Others as many as six.
  • Vehicles entering the roundabout need to yield the right of way to traffic already circulating, and to pedestrians, and bicyclists.
  • Traffic already inside the carriageway or circulatory roadway will always keep moving in the roundabout. This traffic has the right-of-way.

While there are now over two-dozen roundabouts in the Kansas City area alone, it seems like very few drivers know how to use them properly.  Phillip B. Grubaugh, Esq.

No Excuses!

Drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) need basic training on roundabouts. The duration, scope of this training will depend on their area of service and the types of roundabouts they will encounter.

Roundabouts have been used for years in the UK and Europe. Studies have found articulated vehicles are more prone to over turning in roundabouts.

Trucks and CMVs overturn for two main reasons: the vehicle is going too fast or the driver turns too quickly, usually resulting in loss of control.

While roundabouts can be safer, drivers need to drive safer as vehicles are close together and events can happen quickly in a roundabout.

Inadequate surveillance is one of the top 10 factors in truck crashes, according to the DOT. Drivers miss cues or are distracted and are not able to properly respond. Generally, roundabouts or traffic circles will have a sign or two before their placement showing its design or type.  The U.S. DOT recommends that this signage be modified to reflect the number and alignment of approaches. Other signs warn drivers to stay right, advise of an appropriate speed, and to yield the right of way.

Traveling too fast for conditions is another of the top 10 factors is truck crashes. A key characteristic of the roundabout is a slower than normal speed, usually 20 miles per hour or lower. Sometimes the posted speed may be in the 30 to 35 MPH range. But because the roundabout is, well, round or circular by definition, CMV drivers need to drive 10 miles per hour under that speed.

Avoid Conflicts

CMV drivers in a roundabout also need to be mindful of:

  • Following too close
  • Familiarity with the roadway
  • Illegal maneuvers (other vehicles suddenly stopping or swerving)
  • Yielding to pedestrians and bicyclists
  • Other vehicles next to them or attempting to pass

I would further recommend motor carriers incorporate a roundabout on the driver’s road test.

Love them or hate them, roundabouts are a fact of modern driving and we might as well get used to them . . .

Resource: How to Drive a Multi-Lane Roundabout (Semi-trucks with Trailers) WI-DOT

Thank you for reading this.

Stay in the “Right Lane”

Fatal Toronto crash

Stay Right

A basic rule of driving safety is to stay in the right lane. It’s not only a good guideline, but in many states it’s the law: stay right unless passing then get back over. Some highways ban commercial vehicles from the far left lane.

The right lane is the traveling lane for commercial vehicles.

Andrew Scharff of Covenant Transport has put out a video reminding drivers to stay in the right lane or “right” lane.

There are a number of good reasons the right lane can be safer. One reason is that the right lane less kinetic than the left lane. Traffic is usually a little slower and on a divided highway, there’s more space separating your vehicle from oncoming traffic.

Another important factor is giving yourself an “out” (remember the Smith System), if you need to get over quickly.

If there are multi-lanes going in the same direction, with a lot of heavy traffic leaving the road or merging back on, then sometimes the center lane is a safe bet to avoid stop and go traffic, but leave plenty of following distance in case traffic does stop.

Dec 27 2016 Fatal Bronx Crash

On Dec 27, 2016, three occupants of this pickup traveling in the center lane of the Cross Bronx Expressway were fatally injured when the tractor trailer in front of them stopped, but the one behind them did not. 

Of course there are times you need to go to the left lane. If you are coming up on a left-leading exit, then pre-positioning your vehicle for the exit lane is a good idea.

Tip: Keep white on the right. A solid white line on the right hand side of the vehicle means you are travelling in the correct direction. A yellow line on your right side could indicate you are travelling in an oncoming lane!

It is the law in every state to move over a lane if police or emergency vehicles are in the right lane or on the right shoulder. Even if it’s not the law, it’s a safe driving courtesy to give extra space to broken-down vehicles on the shoulder.

Another good rule to follow is to avoid making any unnecessary lane changes. Lane changes are considered a hazardous maneuver.

In our last blog, a recent single-vehicle collision was highlighted, resulting in a number of steel beams cutting through the cab. Wouldn’t you know it . . . the driver wasn’t in the right-most lane . . .

Left lane collision

Thank you for reading this. Many thanks to Andrew Scharff of Covenant Transport,

Managing Space = Managing Time

Montreal A40 crash

Trucker attempts to save driver before Highway 40 truck explosion.

Chain Collision

On Aug 10, 2016, Carol Bujold was in a chain collision involving several trucks on an elevated portion of Highway A-40 in Montreal. He immediately went to check on the tanker driver who stuck his truck from behind.

Bujold noticed two things: the driver was trapped inside and the truck was on fire. He got a crowbar from his truck and attempted to pull open the door, cutting his hand.

In a matter of seconds the truck was engulfed and there was nothing more Bujold could do. The tanker driver perished in the inferno. The collision is under investigation, but the incident began with a stopped vehicle in the lane.

The Key to Defensive Driving

The key to defensive driving is in managing time and space. More space gives you more time and more time gives you more space and more options. This is a fundamental rule of safe driving, no matter your age or level of experience.

Basic driving practices are such as those of the Smith System:

  • Aim High In Steering ® — Look further ahead than other drivers
  • Get The Big Picture ® — See more around you than other drivers
  • Keep Your Eyes Moving ® — Be more aware than other drivers
  • Leave Yourself An Out ® — Position better in traffic than other drivers
  • Make Sure They See You ® — Make yourself more visible than other drivers

Here is a video of the aftermath of the Montreal Highway A-40 crash that shows how quickly the vehicle was engulfed.


A Special Note to New Truck Drivers and Hauling Hazmat

When training new truck drivers, I am always asked if they need their hazmat endorsement?

My answer has always been the same: Get three to five years experience before hauling hazmat.

Why do I say that? For several reasons.

Note in the video above, only one person made an attempt to help the trapped driver. What if several people had fire extinguishers and attempted to aid the driver? Would it have made a difference? Would there have been a few extra seconds to help the driver?

The facts are these: In the event of a hazmat collision, it is likely that no one is obligated to help a truck driver in harm’s way. No one is going to rush in and see if they can help. It doesn’t work that way. It’s not that they don’t care . . . but there are special rules in place at the scene of a hazmat crash.

Secondly, fire and smoke are a big red flag to first responders, hazmat or no hazmat. Years ago I taught driver’s ed. We had a video that talked about “The Rule of Thumb,” when smoke or fire are present at an accident scene. The Rule of Thumb tells first responders (and everyone else) to stay back far enough to literally cover the scene of the accident with your thumb, if you see smoke or fire coming from a vehicle.

So there you have it. There is a reason hazmat is called dangerous goods. Get some experience, a lot of experience, if you decide to haul it, in my opinion.

Thanks for reading this.


Shock Loss

shock loss

A Nightmare Scenario

It’s every trucking company’s worst nightmare. Bad crash. Your truck. Your name on the side of the truck.

It’s every insurance company’s worst nightmare as well. A loss of life. Loss of property. Multiple vehicles. A shock loss . . .

Nobody can really predict a bad crash. They are really ‘statistical anomalies’ or abnormalities. Outliers. Nobody can really plan for them or predict them.

There is a reason they are called shock losses. They are life-changing events that will always be remembered by those whose lives were touched by these tragic events . . . from the victims, to the first responders to the hospital personnel.

Jamison Pals family

One such crash happened this weekend on I-80, that resulted in the loss of five lives . . .





Perhaps a crash of this magnitude is a lagging indicator that more work needs to be done by truck-driver training schools, motor carriers and the risk engineering departments of insurance companies.

Perhaps better technology will provide a partial answer.

I’m personally in favor of higher standards. Higher standards  means to me having better driver training—to keep the vehicle under control at all times.  Higher standards means better driver vetting and monitoring. Higher standards means constant communications on safety. Higher standards means more work and better coordination of safety efforts.

About 80% of motor carriers simply do not get it, in my opinion. They are not willing to do the work, are indifferent, or don’t care . . .

Same for the insurance carriers with the weak or non-existent loss-control sections and aggressive underwriters. There is no better way to put yourself out of business then with a series of shock losses . . .

Let’s work to achieve industry-wide higher safety standards to reduce these major crashes.

A Tip For Better Safety Performance

It’s true. Safety is not one or two things. Safety in trucking means doing a number of things right, consistently and repetitively, day in and day out.

Many times we rely on others to provide us with the safety tools. Many drivers are also left to their own devices when it comes to better safety performance.

One way to increase performance is to ‘self-program’ your mind by means of self-talk or self-instruction.

This isn’t a voodoo mind control technique. This is a proven way, based on sports psychology, to increase performance.

Self-talk can consist of simple, affirmative statements:

  • I want to be safe.
  • I will drive accident free today.
  • I will focus on driving.

Self-talk can increase motivation, but should not be used to focus on a specific goal (“I will drive at least 600 miles in the next 11 hours”).

It would be most helpful to use a coach to implement a company-wide self-talk program.

Thank you for reading this.

Defensive Driving: Dead On or Merely Dead?

Speed and inexperience

Is Defensive Driving Dead?

If you have ever taken a driving course, then you likely have been exposed to some aspect of instruction known as defensive driving.

What is Defensive Driving?

The written standard for driving, ANSI/ASSE Z15.1 Safe Practices for Motor Vehicle Operations — defines defensive driving in Definition 2.5 as . . .

Driving to save lives, time and money, in spite of the conditions around you and the actions of others.

This definition originated from the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Defensive Driving Course.

The National Safety Council created the first defensive driving course in 1964 and has been the leader in driver safety training ever since.

The National Safety Council cuts to the chase right away on their defensive driving page . . .

Motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death and injury in the workplace and the cost of a single accident could easily exceed $1.4 million.

And accompanying NCS video on distracted driving ends with a driver talking on a cell phone and missing a curve . . .

distracted driving


What’s wrong with this picture?

A lot according to some safety theorists, starting with the basic concept of defensive driving. It’s negative, perhaps even too negative.

ReplacIng Defensive Driving with a Positive Mental Framework (PMF)

The concept of defensive driving was developed to counter what is known as reactive driving. Reactive driving is a style of driving in which the driver reacts to current driving situations. Defensive driving is about planning ahead and being more responsive and proactive. Reactive drivers react to situations, ofttimes with negative consequences. So a comparison of reactive and defensive driving has a built-in negativity.

The concept of defensive driving, say some safety training experts, should be replaced with a positive mental framework as in the AAA Foundation’s Zero Errors Driving (ZED) 3.0 Program. The phrase ‘defensive driving’ is never mentioned. The terminology of the IPDE process (I-Identify–Locate potential hazards within the driving scene. P-Predict–Judge where the possible points of conflict may occur. D-Decide–Determine what action to take, when, and where to take it), the foundation of driver’s training for millions of U.S. students, has been streamlined. Words as “minimize, separate, compromise, and stabilize” have been eliminated, with a focus instead on vehicle timing and positioning.

Other concepts and terms have been modified:

  • “Space margin” is used instead of “space cushion.”
  • “Probable” refers to things that are more likely to happen.
  • “Conflict probability/probabilities” replaced the words possible, potential, and immediate, and indicates the seriousness of a hazard.

The Smith System® also avoids the term defensive driving, calling itself “the leading provider of collision avoidance driver training.”

The keys to the positive mental framework in driving are planning ahead and being prepared. Says a ZED 3 teaching guide . . .

“Expect the unexpected” is a catchy phrase that has little or
no application. “Expect other user errors and be prepared” is a more practical guide. It is hoped that this approach will produce drivers who are active seekers and copers rather
than defenders or passive acceptors.

Thank you for reading this.

A Bus, A Truck, An Intersection

FL 7-2-16 crash

Dateline: Wakulla County, Florida Panhandle

The bus and tractor-trailer were on fire, entangled in live power lines. First responders started pulling passengers from the bus, until they could do no more because of the flames. Fire trucks had to stand down until the power was shut off to the utility pole. By that time, the vehicles were engulfed in flames.

The driver of the tractor-trailer,  Gordon Sheets, 55 of Copiague, New York, was fatally injured in the July 2nd, 5:20 AM collision, when a bus loaded with farm-workers ran a stop sign and a flashing red light. Sheets was headed westbound on US-98 (the Coastal Highway), when his tractor collided with the southbound bus from Woodville Highway. Four on the bus succumbed to their injuries and another 20 were injured, including the bus driver who was hospitalized in critical condition. A passenger in the tractor-trailer was not injured said ABC News.

The collision remains under investigation by Florida Highway Patrol.

The One Critical Factor in Most Fatal Collisions

Failure to yield right of way is the one common factor in most fatal cashes. A driver can fail to yield right of way due to: missing visual cues as warning signs or other information indicating another vehicle’s intentions, not seeing an approaching vehicle, or sometimes by simply carelessness or negligence. Examples of a failure to yield right of way include:

  • a driver making a left turn fails to yield to oncoming traffic
  • a  driver enters the street from a private driveway or sideroad
  • a driver aggressively merges onto a highway. or
  • a driver does not heed a flashing yellow or red light, or yield or stop sign.

In the crash above, the bus was traveling a state-highway and perhaps did not expect to see an intersection that was controlled by a stop sign.

Every intersection carries an element of risk. The defensive driver needs to acknowledge this risk and modify their driving habits.

What to Do . . .

Over the years, however, there has been an ongoing controversy by defensive-driving experts on just exactly what should a defensive driver should be doing when approaching an intersection and what it is called.

Is it looking? As in . . . Look both ways — or Look left-right-left, or Look far ahead?

Is it scanning? As in . . . Scan the intersection, Scan the road, “Scan high ahead,” or Scan the mirrors every 3-5 seconds?

Is it checking? As in . . . Check your mirrors, Check both ways, or Check the intersection?

Is it watching? As in . . . Watch for cross-traffic or Watch for caution signs or Watch for other vehicles?

Whenever ideas fail, men invent words. Martin H. Fischer

Other visual technique concepts include: active searching,  selective visual skills (AAA), and visual selective attention (motor skills performance theory). 

All in all, good defensive driving involves the active acquisition of information. However it is understood, this is what we need to teach all drivers.

Thank you for reading this.

When White on White is Code Black . . .

 light effects

White Trailer, Bright Sky

What we know is that the vehicle was on a divided highway with Autopilot engaged when a tractor trailer drove across the highway perpendicular to the Model S. Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied. Telsa

So reads the June 30th press release from Tesla Motors on the May 7 crash involving a driver of a Telsa in Autopilot mode with a tractor-trailer in Williston, Florida. Autopilot is considered semi-autonomous driving (Level 3) as control of the vehicle is shared and human intervention is required. Fully autonomous driving, without any human control, is considered Level 4

Florida is one of several states that allow  “autonomous” or “self-driving” vehicles. Williston, FL is known as the hometown of the horse “Foolish Pleasure,” winner of the 1975 Kentucky Derby.

The driver involved in the collision was Joshua D. Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio, a former Navy Seal, entrepreneur and technology enthusiast. Brown named his car Tessy and posted various performance videos on YouTube, including a video of a near side collision with a small boom truck . . .

Note: the driver of the boomtruck does not signal and isn’t using his mirrors . . .

In the May 7th crash, neither the Autopilot nor Brown saw the truck. In the resulting collision, Brown was fatally injured. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration informed Telsa it is opening a preliminary evaluation of the Autopilot system.

How Can This Happen?

It seems almost impossible that someone could not see a tractor-trailer. Yet crashes involving “invisible” trucks are not that uncommon.

One of the factors in these kind of collisions is a truck making a left turn. Savvy transportation companies discourage left turns and indoctrinate their drivers against making left turns in traffic.

Why are turns dangerous?

  • It can take up to 40 seconds for a tractor trailer to clear an intersection in a left turn.
  • Turns should never be rushed. Drivers negotiating turns need to travel at a speed slow enough that they can not only see what is coming at them, but where they are going and who might cross their path.
  • The backdrop can make a truck invisible. The most dangerous times are in twilight, before the sun appears or after it disappears. In these times, reflectors and reflective tape may not shine as well as they do in pitch darkness, especially if the backdrop is brightly lit.
  • Fog and inclement weather can hide a truck until it’s too late for another driver to see it.
  • Not all drivers follow the rules . . .  some drivers do not slow down for intersections, do not cover the brake before the intersection, or check for traffic.

In short, the majority of drivers do not drive defensively. I’ve road tested thousands of drivers. Most drivers can pass a driving test, but few can pass with flying colors.

That’s why we need to stress defensive driving. Safe Level 4 autonomous driving may be a long, long ways off.

Thank you for reading this.

Worth Repeating . . .


Officials said a man was driving a box truck with his son in the passenger seat when he swerved to miss a tractor trailer that was pulling off of the shoulder back into the travel lane.
The box truck reportedly struck the rear end of the tractor trailer.

Worth Repeating

It appears from the above photo that the tractor trailer was in the breakdown lane. The breakdown lane is named the breakdown lane because it is for emergency use only.

Why was the driver in the breakdown lane? To make a phone call, according to WSOC-TV.

The tractor-trailer driver is being charged with “misdemeanor death by vehicle” and is being held on a $1 million bond.

The diver of the box truck has been hospitalized and his passenger — his 12 year old son — did not survive the collision.

It is worth repeating: if you do not have an emergency, then stay out of the breakdown lane. Making a phone call, checking a map, even running out of fuel, are not considered roadside emergencies.

Check your fuel, check your map and make your calls before getting on the highway.

No Passengers

A second point that arises from this incident — one you may not like — is that trucks are no place for additional passengers.

I say that having ridden in trucks from an early age.

Passengers can get hurt by climbing in and out of trucks. A while back, a young lady fell out of a cab in Michigan and was fatally injured.

Each passenger represents an element of risk.

The Federal regulations say no passengers in any commercial vehicle and they are there for a reason. Most (if not all) insurance companies do not want commercial vehicles or work trucks to carry any unnecessary passengers . . . ever.

That’s all for now.

Thank you for reading this.

Condition White

Condition red

Dealing with Imminent Danger

Do you pay attention when you drive? Are you always “in the moment” when  you are behind the wheel?

Remember those post 9-11 alert colors that were to indicate a potential attack? It turns out a similar color code was used during WWII (the Big One) for pilot and gunner training to help them stay alert and stay alive.

  • Condition White – resting state
  • Condition Yellow –   Psychologically alert and ready.
  • Condition Red – dealing with imminent danger.

Researchers found If a pilot or gunner was day dreaming, and not alert and ready, they could not go from condition white to condition red.  They would fail at their task.

Driving a vehicle is similar. Like the WWII pilots, when we drive, at most we only pay attention to the road about 25% of the time behind the wheel. Our minds are not on the task at hand. We have a million things going on and driving is sometimes the least of our concerns. We drive in Condition White . . .

Worst yet, most of us don’t know that we are not paying attention to driving. Another factor: in the electronic age, new and improved distractions keep coming at us everyday.

When something happens in Condition White, it’s too late for us to do anything about it. We react — we don’t respond.

After the fact, we often excuse our bad reaction  . . .

The vehicle came out from nowhere . . . It happened so fast, I didn’t see it coming . . .  They shouldn’t have been there . . .

Condition Yellow

The idea here is to avoid dealing with imminent danger.

An imminent danger is any condition where there is reasonable certainty that a danger exists that can be expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately or before the danger can be eliminated through normal enforcement procedures. OSHA

By not exercising due care and maintaining a proper look out as good drivers should, we can put ourselves in a position of imminent danger.

And we can’t jump from Condition White (relaxed, not paying attention) to Condition Red (taking evasive actions).

The key to safe driving is to always maintain a mental state of readiness and alertness while driving. This is ‘Condition Yellow.’

Another name for Condition Yellow is relaxed concentration. Relaxed concentration helps in decision making . . . and driving is all about making decisions.

Another term that comes to mind is mindfulness. Mindfulness means you are aware of what is happening right here, right now.

Paying attention to driving takes effort. According to Daniel Goleman there are two kinds of distractions sensory distractions (things happening around you) and emotional distractions (your inner dialogue, thoughts, etc.). Emotional distractions can be the most powerful, especially while driving. Note how many accidents you hear about occur when people are traveling on occasions of weddings, funerals, job interviews, or some big life event. It’s easy to run a light, miss a stop sign or fail to yield right of way when something is on your mind . . .

So learn to both concentrate and relax while driving. This seems paradoxical, but driving in a state of relaxed concentration is a critical driving skill that can be learned and taught.

Thank you for reading this.

The Climb

Mt Everest

A Legendary Conquest

It’s the stuff that legends are made of. A young, successful couple go on a quest to prove to the world that vegans can do anything by climbing the Seven Summits — the tallest mountains in the world.

One of their expedition leaders has a similar goal: to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. He finally succeeds on this, his fourth attempt, but on the way down, he had spent all he had and pays the ultimate price. . . The young couple both in their 30s, don’t make it to the top and also pay a price. Youth alone does not provide any immunity against altitude sickness in the death zone. She dies and he is stricken . . .

What’s the connection to transportation, you might ask?

We can see similar results everyday when drivers push themselves beyond their personal limits. Perhaps they are tired or not feeling well. Perhaps their health isn’t what it used to be. Perhaps their schedule was delayed and their sleep cycle was interrupted.

But they push on. They are so focused on the mission they miss their own vital signs. They bop until they literally drop.

In the majority of cases, pushing to the limits results in single vehicle collision. The truck runs off of the road. Sometimes the driver is seriously injured. If the vehicle rolls, it is likely the driver will be seriously injured or even fatally injured, His driving career is tarnished and could be over . . .

If the driver finds himself in the Land of Nod on a heavily traveled road, he may crash into other vehicles. If so, there is the likelihood of multiple injuries or even fatalities.

If the driver survives, he will be in a world of hurt. The odds are that his driving career is over. He may be sued with his company. He may be criminally prosecuted and jailed.

It doesn’t matter how good his driving record. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t intend for a collision to happen. There will people looking for justice or the closest thing they can get to justice.

Who’s to Blame?

Is the driver to blame? Is the carrier to blame? Is no one to blame? Is the “system” to blame?

Will new technology solve this problem?

Time will tell.

In the meantime, drivers need to know their limits. Drivers need to learn how to read their own vital signs. They need to know about fatigue management and the signs of sleep.

The one thing we know about sleep for sure is that you can not fight it. When your brain shuts down, there is little a person can do other than get some needed rest.

Don’t try to make the climb if you can’t do it. Stay out of the zone of death. Know when to say no . . .


Thank you for reading this.


Texas bus crash

Driver Loses Control

It was still raining last Saturday morning when they recovered the bus on Highway 83 in Webb County, Texas.

The bus was northbound when it lost control and when off of the road, resulting in eight fatalities and dozens injured. One factor that National Transportation Safety Board investigators will look at is if hydroplaning contributed to the rollover.

What is Hydroplaning?

To look at loss of traction, it helps to first look at a tire’s grip or traction. Every tire has a footprint or “patch” where it meets the road.

tire patch

Anytime something comes between the tire and the road — snow, ice, rain, loose gravel, — there are fewer pressure points and less contact with the road.

But there is more to it than just that. The tire needs to be properly inflated (and that information is specified by the vehicle manufacturer — not on the side of the tire). The tire also needs to have adequate tread depth (in bad weather conditions, this is more than the legal minimums of 4/32-inch on front tires and at least 2/32-inch on other tires).

Finally, the driver needs to know what they are doing. Getting into trouble is the easy part. Preventing a small problem from turning into a major disaster or a catastrophe is the true measure of a driver’s level of skill. Sometimes this means not driving at all . . .

The tire patch, proper tire inflation, adequate tread depth and driver skill level all contribute their part to whether or not a vehicle can be safety driven depending on weather conditions. A good patch but no tread depth can be as bad having a good tread depth but under– or over–inflated tires, etc.

Hydroplaning is the loss of control by a driver when their vehicle’s tires ride on a thin film of water over the road.

Conditions for hydroplaning can be expected where water or other precipitation accumulates to a depth of one tenth of an inch or greater, especially at speeds greater than 45 MPH.

Bad road design can result in improper water runoff. The most frequent lawsuit in the state of South Caroline against the DOT is for hydroplaning. The state has paid out millions is claims over the years. One reason cited by SC DOT officials is water sometimes cannot run off due to thatching of grass alongside the roadway.

So depending on how fast a vehicle is going and the depth of water, on the roadway, the vehicle can ride up on the film of water, becoming unstable or even impossible to control. The vehicle is then hydroplaning.

Hydroplaning Countermeasures

• Listen for a sloshing sound from the wheel wells.

• Look for pools of water forming on the road.

Slow down when it starts to rain.

• Turn off the cruise control.

Don’t drive in heavy rainfall, if you can safely park.

Drive smoothly: no sudden turns or braking.

• Keep tires properly inflated with plenty of tread.

• Take a skid-school course for your class and type of vehicle.

The key to prevent loss of control due to hydroplaning is to read the roadway. And be ready for that ‘Someday.’

Thank you for reading this.

Preventable Accident Guidelines

collisionControlling Preventable Collisions and Claims

Preventable collisions can be controlled and managed. But like anything that is managed, preventable collisions need to be tracked and measured.

When an accident occurs, the events leading up to the accident, the causes and responsible conditions, the collision and the post accident events leading up to the accident events must be carefully evaluated. Driver errors are one of the factors that should be considered. The standard, which should be applied, is the concept of accident preventability. The Hartford

Although severity (average cost per claim) can be variable, claims frequency is a better number to work with from a risk management perspective. To get to that number, you need to have some easy-to-understand guidelines to follow.

Non-Preventable Collisions: Include the following circumstances:
• Struck in rear by other vehicle
These are Non-Preventable if the collision occurs:
– While proceeding in proper lane of traffic at a safe and legal speed
– While waiting to make a turn from a proper lane
– While stopped in traffic due to existing conditions or in compliance with a traffic sign, signal or officer
• Struck while legally and properly parked.

All collisions should be investigated with regards to preventability. Here is a set of generic Preventable Accident Guidelines . . .


It is the responsibility of 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 conform to laws or traffic control devices will not automatically discharge an accident as “not preventable.” Intersection accidents are preventable even though the driver has not violated traffic regulations. The driver’s failure to take precautionary measures prior to entering the intersection are factors to be studied in making a decision. When a driver crosses an intersection and the obvious actions of the “other driver” indicate possible involvement either by reason of his/her excess speed, crossing the lane and turning, or coming from behind a blind spot, the decision based on such entrapment should be preventable.

Vehicle Ahead

Regardless of the abrupt or unexpected stop of the vehicle ahead, Drivers can prevent front-end collisions by maintaining a safe following distance at all times. A safe following distance is one that allows the driver sufficient time, distance, and vision requirements to avoid an accident to reduce traffic conflict. This includes being prepared for possible obstructions on the highway, either in plain view or hidden by the crest of a 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.

Struck From Behind

Investigation often discloses that drivers risk being struck from behind by failing to maintain a margin of safety in their own following distance. 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.

Being Passed

Sideswipes and cut-offs involving a driver while he/she is being passed are preventable when he/she fails to yield to the passing vehicle by slowing down, moving to the right where possible, or maintaining speed, whichever action is appropriate.


It is extremely important to check the action of the driver when involved in a head-on or sideswipe accident with a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. The exact location of a vehicle, prior to and at the point of impact, must be carefully verified. Even though an opposing vehicle enters the driver’s traffic lane, it may be possible for the your driver to avoid the collision. For example, if the opposing vehicle was in a passing maneuver and the your driver failed to slow down, stop, or move to the right to allow the vehicle to re-enter its own lane, he/she has failed to take action to prevent the occurrence. Failing to signal the opposing driver in an appropriate manner should also be taken into account.

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 traveled section of road, and similar situations are not, in themselves, valid reasons for excusing a driver from being involved. A driver must be constantly on the lookout for such conditions and make necessary allowances relative to speed and vehicle positioning.


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, shopping areas, 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 his/her sight distance has failed to take necessary precautions to prevent an accident. Keeping within posted speed limits is not taking the proper precaution when unusual conditions call for voluntary reduction of speed.

Private Property

When a driver is expected to enter unusual locations, construction sites, or driveways not built to support heavy commercial vehicles, etc., it is the driver’s responsibility to discuss the operation with the proper authorities and to obtain permission prior to entering the area.

Passenger Accident

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 driver to avoid a collision that results in passenger injury should be checked if proper driving prior to the emergency would have eliminated the need for the evasive maneuver. The driver is responsible for the utilization of passenger restraint devices.


Many accidents, such as overturning, jack-knifing, or running off the road, may result from emergency action by the driver to preclude being involved in a collision. Examination of his/her driving procedure prior to the incident may reveal speed too fast for conditions or other factors. The driver’s action prior to involvement should be examined for possible errors or lack of defensive driving practice.


Protruding loads, loose objects falling from the vehicle, loose tarpaulins or chains, doors swinging open, etc., resulting in damage to the vehicle, cargo, or other property or injury to persons, are preventable when the driver’s action or failure to secure them are evidenced. Cargo damage, resulting from unsafe vehicle operation, is preventable by your drivers.


Unconventional parking conditions, 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, unattended vehicle and/or failure to properly block wheels or to turn wheel toward curb to prevent vehicle movement.


Practically all-backing accidents are preventable. A driver is not relieved of his/her responsibility to back safely when a guide is involved in the maneuver. A guide cannot control the movement of the vehicle; therefore, a driver must check all clearances for him/herself.


It is impossible to describe in detail the many ways a driver might prevent an accident without being primarily or legally responsible. The above guide merely emphasizes the most frequent occurrences. The following definition of Defensive Driving should be applied to all accidents involving drivers:

A Defensive Driver is one who commits no driving errors and makes all reasonable allowances for the lack of skill or improper driving practice of the other driver. A Defensive Driver adjusts his/her own driving to compensate for unusual weather, road, and traffic conditions, and is not tricked into an accident by the unsafe actions of pedestrians and other drivers. By being alert to accident-inducing situations, he/she recognizes the need for preventative action in advance and takes the necessary precaution to prevent the accident. As a Defensive Driver, he/she knows when it is necessary to slow down, stop, or yield his/her right-of-way to avoid involvement.

Once it is determined a collision was preventable, a driver can be held accountable.

Tip: To fairly hold drivers accountable they should be trained in the concepts of preventability and in defensive driving. Drivers will not understand the process unless they understand why and how they are held accountable. The Hartford.

Thank you for reading this.


Keeping Drivers Safe on the Road

Golden rules of driving

Fatal Truck Driver Collisions On the Rise

SInce 2009 there has been an increase in work-related fatalities of large-truck occupants, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why is that? What is driving this? What can be done?

Not Wearing Seat Belts / Safety Belts

The most effective way to prevent crash injuries/deaths in large trucks is simple: drivers (and occupants) need to wear a safety belt (or bunk restraints) while driving.

Studies show about 1 in 6 truck drivers doesn’t use a seat belt. Other studies show seat belts/safety belts could have prevented up to 40% of these crash-deaths.

Three other significant facts arise from safety-belt studies and driver behavior. Unbelted drivers usually:

  • Work for an employer without a written safety program
  • Have had at least one moving violation in the past year 
  • Often drive 10 mph or more over the speed limit.

In other words, the unbelted driver is a risky driver or high risk driver.

What Employers Can Do?

Enforce a mandatory safety belt/ safety belt use policy. Drivers need to be aware of the policy and the consequences of violation.

Of course, one of the best way to keep truck drivers safe on the road is to prevent crashes. Invest in safety. Invest in new technology.

But new technology can only go so far. How you recruit, train, and monitor drivers is where new technology can help the most.

Beside using a seat belt/ safety belt employers can encourage and monitor drivers:

  • Not to use their cell phone
  • Not to drive over the speed limit
  • Never use alcohol or drugs on the job
  • Plan the trip: encourage driving during daylight hours rather than after dark, whenever possible.

These, plus the use of a safety belt are called the golden rules of safe driving.

“Poor safety is nothing more than a lack of leadership.”

Be a Safety Leader

Other safety initiatives include incorporating a Fatigue Management System for drivers. Fatigue is a major hazard because it affects most aspects of a driver’s ability to do their job. As such, it has implications for safety. One such option is Omnitracs Analytics’ Driver Fatigue Model.

Behavior based Driver Training should be de rigueur for every driver employer starting with Defensive Driving Training (Instructor-led training or E-learning modules) and continuing with advanced training or even remedial training for the drivers who need it.

Take and make safety initiatives that are unique to your set of operations. Sometimes this means taking at look at your safety awards or safety incentives program. Some regulatory bodies like OSHA do not like incentive or bonus programs because they believe poor safety can be hidden. One option is to pool the names of safe drivers and randomly pick a winner for recognition. Another bonus option is to find out if there are any particular privileges a driver may want as extra-long weekends or the like. Find out what works best for your particular drivers,

Improve a Little at a Time

It took a long time to get wherever you are at. Changes will take some time as well. The idea is to keep looking for unique solutions that can make a big difference in the long haul.

Thank you for reading this.

There Really Wasn’t Anything Anyone Could Have Done . . . Or Was There?

fatal collision

There Really Wasn’t Anything Anyone Could Have Done . . .

On Thursday, a young man with autism stepped off the bus in Omaha and was fatally injured. He attempted to cross the street from around the front of the bus and was struck by a tow truck. He was 24 years old.

“There really wasn’t anything anyone could have done.” Witness to the collision.

For those of us in the world of loss control and traffic safety and collision prevention, we might disagree with that statement.

Sure, a pedestrian has the duty to take reasonable and prudent caution before venturing out in traffic. But a driver can never assume a pedestrian will do this.

  • Children under the age of 10 or 11, for example, have no sense of traffic. They will follow balls, toys, pets or other children into a busy street.
  • Many traffic signals do not allow sufficient time for the elderly to cross a typical street.
  • Parked vehicles as buses, trucks, SUVs, etc., are huge blind spots and can hide someone about to cross into the street.


  • A basic rule when driving past parked vehicles is to look for feet under the vehicle, indicating someone is about to step out.
  • Slow down. Slowing down gives a driver more time to process driving information and respond (not react in a panic). One study found that a reduction of 5 km/h or about 3 MPH could be expected to result in a reduction of 30% of fatal pedestrian collisions and 10% of collisions would have been avoided altogether.
  • Be alert and avoid distractions. Be mindful of driving. Focus, focus, focus.

What is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is a set of driving skills.

A skill is the ability to do something well, or expertly.

By that simple definition, the average driver is . . . well, average. Many U.S. drivers have never had any formal driving classes in their lifetime. Driver’s Ed is not universal because it can be expensive. I can remember a while back when Texas allowed parents to skip formal driver’s ed classes and teach their own kids how to drive in the parent-taught driver education (PTDE) program. Kids take on-line classes and the parent does the in-car training portion. (On a side note, It was interesting because at that time, Texas had an open-container law in which a passenger could legally drink alcohol while going down the road.)

The point is not everyone has good defensive driving skills because they have never been taught that particular skill set.

Secondly, we all need reminders from time to time because even the best defensive driving skills can get stale.

Over time one notices that certain types of collisions seem to occur in a series. Awareness of a particular danger is increased . . . and then, oddly enough, those types of collisions seem to disappear. Then the cycle repeats itself. (Some say all accidents simply follow the law of averages. I disagree.) Learning by making mistakes is neither the best nor the most efficient way to go about defensive driving. Drivers need training and retraining.

Defensive driving is a form of training or practice for motor vehicle drivers to drive in such a way that they consciously reduce the dangers associated with driving.

If you employ drivers, then teach them defensive driving. One advantage of living in the Age of Information is that the costs of training keep going down (while the cost of doing nothing keeps increasing).

There is no excuse for any employer of drivers not to have a defensive driving program.

Thank you for reading this.


Drivers . . . Be Mindful of . . . People

Checking on the scene . . .


It was her first concert and the Greyhound bus dropped her off on an evening scheduled stop on U.S. 23. She called home on her cell phone, as she crossed the dark highway. She was 18 and never saw the truck . . .

The numbers are still coming in for 2015, but everything so far points to last year as being one of the most dangerous years for pedestrians says the Insurance Journal. It is estimated that about 15% of fatalities in 2015 were pedestrians. About a decade ago the average was about 10% to 11% per year.

About 42% of the pedestrian fatalities occurred in the states with large metropolitan centers: California, Florida, Texas and New York.

But as the photo below shows, pedestrians can show up where you least expect them.

Pedestrian on expressway

A truck dashcam catches a pedestrian strolling along an expressway.


There seem to be blind people out there trying to drive, and there are blind people out there trying to walk. Turn on your lights so they can see you coming. Dress in contrast to the pavement so the drivers can see you.  Frances Eckhardt, Vancouver

Cellphone-Distracted Walking

In 2015 the National Safety Council (NSC) added a new category called cellphone-distracted walking when tracking unintentional deaths and injuries. NSC estimates that between 2000 and 2011 more than 11,000 people were injured while walking and talking on their phones.

“Cellphone use reduces situational awareness. You are unaware that you are unaware. Peripheral vision drops by 10 percent when you’re using a mobile device, enough to miss a traffic light or an oncoming car. That pulls our attention away and results in unsafe behavior.” Lisa Kons,  Minnesota Safety Council.

So many people walking and texting has led to a new word —petextrian. People are literally bumping into things, not watching where they are going, while interacting with their electronic devices.


(A countermeasure is a measure or action taken to counter or offset another one.)

There is an interesting phenomenon every commercial truck driver notices sooner or later in their career. . . the larger the truck you drive, the more invisible it seems to become.

The only effective solution to this cloak of invisibility are basic defensive driving practices such as those of the Smith System:

  • Aim High In Steering ® — Looking further ahead than other drivers
  • Get The Big Picture ® — Seeing more around you than other drivers
  • Keep Your Eyes Moving ® — Being more aware than other drivers
  • Leave Yourself An Out ® — Positioning in traffic better than other drivers
  • Make Sure They See You ® — Making yourself more visible than other drivers

Learning to effectively manage time and space is the key to defensive driving. For example, if you don’t have six seconds following distance, the vehicle ahead might be able to swerve around someone, but you will not have enough time to anticipate the danger and respond in an appropriate manner.

Another tool is the active practice of mindfulness while driving: focusing on one thing in the moment.

  • Set all distractions aside
  • Give driving your full attention
  • Do not to judge anything that you’re experiencing. It is what it is.
  • Enjoy the journey.

Thank you for reading this.

More: Preventing Roll-overs of Pedestrians

How can Pedestrian Collisions be Prevented?



Truck crash scams: One More Reason for an “Event Recording Device?”

preventing fraudCrunch Time!

Insurance fraud is any act committed with the intent to obtain a fraudulent outcome from an insurance process.

The incidences of cars pulling in front of trucks to intentionally collide are increasing. Many motor carriers are not aware of this growing problem. These scams are not only dangerous, but raise everyone’s insurance premiums.

Fact:  Since 2008 car-semitrailer insurance fraud has grown 24 percent nationwide.

Called a “staged wreck,” it involves a car slowing down or suddenly stopping in front of a truck or tractor-trailer so it is rear-ended. Shortly after an insurance claim is filed against the motor carrier.

Staged accidents are schemes in which an accident is predetermined to occur on a vehicle. The schemes are organized by rings and the culprits move from one area to another. They often use the same vehicle over and over, which is sometimes what causes their scheme to be uncovered. Insurance Fraud Handbook


Insurance Fraud Countermeasures

How can a driver or motor carrier protect themselves against insurance fraud?

The number one tool to fight insurance fraud is awareness of the problem, to avoid being victimized by the scammers.

• Report suspected fraud to your insurance company. More than 4 of 5 insurers have trained insurance fraud investigators.

• Drivers should never tailgate and learn to watch out for a setup.

Swoop and squat: A suspect vehicle suddenly swoops in front of you and jams on the brakes, causing a rear-end collision.

Drive down: You’re trying to merge into traffic, and a dishonest driver slows down and waves you forward. He then crashes into your vehicle, but denies waving you into traffic and blames the accident on you. Crooked drivers may also wave you out of a parking space with the same come-on.

Sideswipe: Be careful if you’re driving in the inner lane of a dual left-turn lane at a busy intersection. Crooks will deliberately ram you if you drift into the outer lane while turning. Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

All drivers need to be well versed on defensive driving practices and techniques. If a crash does happen, be observant.

• Never tailgate : allow plenty of space between your car and the car ahead of you. This will give you ample time to stop if the lead car suddenly jams on its brakes.

• Look beyond the car in front of you while driving. Apply your brakes if you see traffic slowing.

• Count how many passengers were in the other vehicle if you’re in a collision. Get their names, phone numbers and driver’s license : more people may file claims than were in the car. Also get the car’s license number. Note: Keep a pen and paper in your glove compartment so you’re always ready.

• How do the passengers behave? Did they stand around and joke, but suddenly act “injured” when the police arrived?

• Take cell-phone pictures of the other car, the damage it received — and the passengers.

• Call the police to the scene. Get a police report with the officer’s name, even for minor damage. If the police report notes just a small dent or scratch, it’ll be harder for crooks to later claim serious injuries or car damage.

• Get involved if you’re a witness. Watch for the warning signs of a scam, and help the honest victim with details. Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

Motor carriers are also installing Event Recording Devices to capture crash details on video. One large motor carrier will install over 6,000 devices in its fleet.

Will your company be the next victim?

Thank you for reading this.