Vehicular accidents typically include significant disruption or loss of workforce productivity and can create additional stress on employees depending on the magnitude of damage and/or injuries caused by the accident. But the financial impact from an accident effects more than just the person(s) involved. To limit future costs and liability, properly investigating accidents is vital to the success of any security organization.
First, let’s clearly define motor vehicle accidents. They are an un-stabilized situation that includes at least one accidental harmful event (injury or property damage) involving a motor vehicle in transport in motion, in readiness for motion, or on a roadway.
The following are some helpful best practices on addressing their investigations.
Who Should Investigate
Accidents should be investigated as soon as possible and with great detail, telling a story of what happened. Typically, this investigation is done by the site security manager or designated representative, NOT the involved persons.
What To Do at the Accident Scene
Stabilize the accident scene, assure no other harmful events will occur. Safety of all those involved and responders is critical, especially if the accident occurred on a busy roadway or entry point.
Call for assistance as needed including emergency personnel if there are reported or obvious injuries.
Check for injuries and determine who is involved and who may have witnessed the accident. Often times people involved in an accident do not immediately report injuries sustained, so additional observation or precautions may be necessary.
Assess and Gather Information
Once the scene is safe the investigative actions can continue. It is important to collect names and contact information from any witnesses. Obtain oral or written statements from involved persons and witnesses. Look for and preserve any evidence of the accident.
Photographs are extremely important if permission to utilize a camera or other recordable device to document the overall accident scene is granted. Photographs should be taken at a reasonable distance away and up close to the involved property and vehicle damage. This helps to determine the actual orientation of the vehicle(s) and compare with statements of witnesses and those involved. If the accident occurred at night or in low light, take photographs both at the initial investigation phase and again during daylight hours. Note the vehicle tags, make, and model of involved vehicles.
If surveillance video of the accident scene and surrounding areas is available, it can provide crucial additional information for the investigation. A detailed report of the accident along with photo/video documentation can tell a complete story to an outsider who may later evaluate and review the event for insurance or legal purposes.
Ensuring that a safe traffic pattern is in place is a challenge during facility construction or when modifications are made to normal vehicular and pedestrian access and egress. Appropriate signage is critical to ensure that all staff, visitors, and security personnel are aware of those changes.
When an accident occurs it’s important to evaluate the causes as well as the traffic patterns and adjust, if warranted, to avoid future problems.