One of the greatest and more devastating risks that organizations face today is the operation of vehicles for business and events. Your school can be held liable for damages whether you own, lease or borrow a vehicle, or if your volunteers and staff members use their own personal vehicles for transportation. On a regular basis, we read reports and handle transportation-related claims that involve serious injury and death. More often than not, these accidents involve unsafe vehicles and practices. Vans and cars in disrepair, not wearing seatbelts, driver fatigue and distracted drivers are all cited as causes of accidents.
The following information from the GuideOne Center for Risk Management can help you reduce vehicle risks and determine whether or not you have the right coverage in place.
Safe Transportation Strategies
- Form a transportation committee consisting of staff, drivers, maintenance workers and parents.
- Adopt a written transportation policy that outlines who can drive, how vehicles will be selected and maintained, and what safety measures you will employ.
- Check driving records of all current and potential staff and volunteer drivers. Have drivers complete a release allowing you to review their driving record.
- Remember that more accidents occur with drivers under age 25 and over age 70.
- Train drivers on safe vehicle operation .
- Assign responsibility for vehicle maintenance. Ensure consistent pre- and post-trip inspections by drivers, and semiannual inspections with a qualified mechanic.
- Only use non-owned vehicles that pass a strict safety inspection.
Are You Covered if an Accident Happens?
- A large number of liability claims against organizations often result from vehicle accidents. Claims can be devastating if an accident involves a bus or van.
- Protection is needed against negligent driving, operation and entrustment. (Example: The driver has no license or a history of substance abuse.)
- A business automobile insurance policy can cover any vehicle your organization owns. It will cover damage to the vehicle, injuries and damage to other property.
- Non-owned vehicle coverage is also needed for situations where the organization controls the list of pickups (of children or youth) by volunteers’ personal vehicles for organizational activities.
- In addition to general liability coverage, a commercial umbrella policy with $1 million of coverage or more is recommended.