Brad Pistotnik Law
Abogado El Toro


Fleet Safety is a concept about safety that is a principle that can be taught to any business that runs a fleet of vehicles. A fleet of vehicles can be simply two or more company vehicles that are used in business. The National Safety Council has a wonderful discussion about safety programs and their effectiveness on preventing accidents. If you run a business and want to avoid being sued then you need to understand many principles about safety.

Fleet Safety Principle 1. Develop a safety program. You can never be safe enough. Always assume that your employee or drive is going to violate the law so you need to figure out how to prevent that from happening. The easiest and best way is to set up a simple program on driver safety and then purchase training manuals from the Smith System or from J.J. Keller and Associates. You then can spend a day having your driers read through training materials and DVD’s or other electronic lectures. Test them afterward to see if they comprehended what they are supposed to learn.

Fleet Safety Principle 2. Develop a road test and perform background checks. Go out with every driver and ride for ten miles with them to see how they stop, back, turn, signal and otherwise drive. Teach them to be defensive. Put them in various maneuvers to see if they are competent to driver whatever vehicle it is that you have. You could be a real estate team with several sales people. If they have a wreck while selling real estate for you then you may be responsible for their actions under the doctrines of Vicarious Liability and Respondeat Superior. In almost all states, you have a duty to carefully hire, train, supervise, perform background checks and past motor vehicle driving history MVR checks. One you have your drivers road tested and properly checked it makes you appear to have attempted to meet your duty.

Fleet Safety Principle 3. Hire a Safety Director if you must be compliant with the FMCSR. Remember that if you meet the DOT requirements you must have drivers with a CDL who are properly qualified and trained under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) pursuant to 49 C.F.R. Part 381 through Part 399. These regulations are extremely complex and require that you actually must have a Safety Director and other required managers and officers to comply with these regulations and the CSA BASICs that measure SMS safety data. Many business owners do not realize that they are required to follow the FMCSR and they violate the regulations on a daily basis.

Fleet Safety Principle 4. Establish an employment policy with a 3 strike rule. This means that if you have a bad employee driving for you that gets into an accident, you given him a warning and retraining the first time. The second time you give them a suspension and retraining. The third time they have an accident you terminate them before you get sued.

Fleet Safety Principle 5. Establish a post-accident investigation process to determine why the driver had an accident and see what can be done to retrain the driver. Review preventability and look at the manner in which your company can prevent future accidents. Take photos of the scene and damage. Obtain witness statements to see what happened. Talk to your driver to get their written version of how the accident happened. Write out solutions for what could have been done differently in hindsight. Retrain the driver so they do not make a similar mistake in the future. Create and maintain an accident register with descriptions of the accident and what happened with a determination of preventable or not preventable so your company can avoid preventable accidents in the future.

What does a really shrewd personal injury attorney look for when trying to help their client win a case? The best personal injury trucking attorneys and lawyers will look for ways to establish that your company did not follow any of the Fleet Safety Principles above. If the lawyer can prove that you hire rapidly, fail to screen your employees, don’t do background checks, fail to train, road test and supervise the drivers, you may be subject to punitive damages for turning a blind eye to safety just to save a buck. This is known as ratification and can be express or implied. Let’s say you chose not to spend $500 on some training books to avoid the expense of training and do not have any employees teach the new hires. You probably ratified the conduct of the negligent or wantonly driving driver since you never bothered to spend the money and time it would take to make them a defensive driver.

If you have a small business that is required to monitor hours over the road and keep appropriate time logs so your drivers are not fatigued then you likely ratified bad conduct by not hiring log auditing people to insure that your drivers are driving without exceeding the maximum hours limits.

If you have a small business that uses message boards for dispatch or sends out texts to the drivers, you are knowingly creating a bad situation. When you divert the driver’s attention to look at a cell phone, message board other PDA device that alerts them to where to go to pick up a package or to perform a work detail, you are automatically creating a distraction from driving. Brad Pistotnik Law has used simple errors like this to sue many smaller companies. Recent studies on distracted driving by CNN and other major media outlets are finding a high relationship of accident as compare to distraction on cell phones and similar devices. While it may cause a momentary loss of profit, your company would be much wiser to page a driver, have them stop and then send the directions on where the next job is while stopped. With Qualcomm and other satellite devices, this protocol can easily be met in this technology driven age.

You may or may not recall the severe accident that comedian Tracy Morgan was in where he was crippled and a friend was killed. Rising rates of distracted driving and what has become reckless and incompetent driving by fleet drivers, over-the-road drivers, and simply untrained company drivers is due to the technology of today and the instant need of everyone for immediate response and immediate gratification.

When you need a lawyer that is actually highly skilled and experienced in helping people with personal injuries who have been injured due to the negligence of a company vehicle, whether a fleet vehicle, a DOT vehicle, a commercial motor vehicle or other business related vehicle then you need the lawyer that will take 25-30 depositions and scour the evidence to help you on your case. You need the lawyer that will be able to ask questions about the FMCSR from the top of his head due to having written articles, books and seminars on trucking accidents like the book Truck Accidents Kill. You need to have someone like me that actually cares about you hard enough to work 100 hours a week when the need arises. I will do that for your whenever you have a legitimate business vehicle or trucking case that has resulted in sever catastrophic injury to your or your family member.

I can be called at 800-241-BRAD or on my main line at 316-684-4400 or on my cell at 316-706-5020. You have nothing to lose by getting a free consultation. Our office is located at 10111 E. 21st Street North, Suite 204, Wichita, Kansas 67206. We have a staff of many lawyers and legal assistants to meet your needs. We help people in Kansas from Liberal to Kansas City and everywhere in between like Dodge City, Garden City, Wichita, Salina, Hays, Colby, Salina, Abilene, Emporia, Hutchinson, Wellington, Arkansas City, Fredonia, Ottawa, Belle Plaine, Pittsburg, Ft. Scott, Ulysses, Satanta, Larned, Goodland, Ft. Riley, Manhattan, Lawrence and other towns in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois and the surrounding states. I answer the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week and take appointments holidays, Saturdays, Sundays. We will drive or fly to you when you are injured.