ACHRNEWS

Baby, you can't drive my car

July 12, 2000
Things were going well for Grace Roofing — business was at its best after four years of lean times. Mark, the company’s owner, recently had won a contract for an automobile manufacturer that had facilities throughout the state.

However, Mark had a dilemma on his hands. About two years ago, one of the company’s workers left a bar in a company truck and struck two parked cars.

Although nobody was hurt in the incident, the driver was ticketed for driving under the influence of alcohol, and the accident caused Grace Roofing’s auto insurance premium to increase.

Because of the premium increase, Mark told his workers that they must drive their own vehicles to the home office and then drive company vehicles to jobsites.

Mark knew this policy would be counter-productive because his crews would be scattered all over the state, and some workers would be required to stay in local hotels near a jobsite.

Mark decided to limit company vehicle use to supervisors to minimize the chance of accidents. When Mark told his foremen and superintendents about their added responsibility, he also said that under no circumstances would other employees be allowed to drive company vehicles.

About two months after work began on the new projects, accidents were still occurring, and Mark planned to discuss the problem with his supervisors soon.

One day Sammy, a foreman, was driving a company truck to a jobsite. The sun had just started to rise, creating a glare through his windshield. Sammy grabbed a rag that was sitting on the front seat and tried to rub some dirt off the inside of the windshield, which reduced the glare.

Accidents can happen

Because traffic was moving slowly, Sammy decided to continue cleaning. When he finally looked up, he saw the car in front of him had stopped. Instead of hitting the brake pedal, he hit the accelerator and slammed into the back of the car in front of him.

The two drivers drove their vehicles to the side of the road to exchange insurance information. Nobody was injured, but the car’s rear bumper and trunk had been smashed by Sammy’s truck.

As Sammy and the car’s driver exchanged information, a police officer pulled up behind them.

After listening to their stories, the officer decided the car could not be driven, so she called a tow truck. She then issued Sammy a citation for following another car too closely.

Sammy called Mark and explained what had happened. Mark told him that he would have to issue Sammy a written reprimand and add it to his personnel file. Mark then called his insurance agent. The agent told Mark that he was concerned about the amount of vehicular accidents Grace Roofing was experiencing.

The agent said Mark needed to consider taking a more proactive approach regarding vehicle safety. The agent also said that though the collisions that had occurred recently did not involve injuries, Grace Roofing still could have its policy canceled at renewal time because the frequency of accidents was high.

The agent said the insurance company had a vehicle safety program that discussed all the elements that need to be considered when establishing a safety program. He said he would send Mark a copy.

Setting up a safety program

Mark read it and worked on developing a similar program for his company.

First, he decided that the policy stating that supervisors cannot drive company trucks to jobsites from home would remain unchanged.

Second, he sternly warned supervisors that they would be the only drivers allowed to drive their assigned vehicles. He also said that if a worker drove a vehicle, his supervisor would be fired immediately, except in cases of medical emergency.

Third, vehicle maintenance became an integral part of the program because the company’s vehicles were getting older, and he hired a local mechanic to work on Grace Roofing’s vehicles.

Fourth, Mark implemented a mandatory defensive driving course.

Mark and his insurance agent met several months later and reviewed Grace Roofing’s auto claims. The agent was pleased to see there had been no more vehicle accidents since Mark implemented the vehicle safety program.

He told Mark that Grace Roofing’s policy probably would be renewed, but the rates still may increase. However, sticking to the program should help decrease the premium over time.