The Merriam Agency has been serving Rescue Missions and Homeless Shelters since 1905. Speaking nationally, providing free consultation, and solving numerous problems, the Agency has earned the distinction of the exclusively endorsed strategic partner status since 2008.

Driving Large Vehicles Safely

“Power lines, roof eaves, and small cars.” One executive director lost no time in describing what donation pick-up drivers need to watch out for. “How do you think I knew that?” he asked, “because they’ve all happened to me!”

My observations confirm the executive director’s experience. One of the most frequent claims to come across my desk is a box truck or 15 passenger van hitting another vehicle or building. While the damage is often minor, the costs paid by the insurance company are generally upwards of $1000 to replace, bumpers, lights, and signs.

These accidents have two ramifications. The first is potential increased cost of insurance. When an insurance company sees a history of frequent auto claims, they consider the assumption of risk to be higher and charge accordingly. Second, damage by mission vehicles, especially to property of donors, hurts the Mission’s public image. Bad news travels fast, and a bad experience with one part of the Mission can affect the way donors and their network of friends and associates see the Mission as a whole.

Three steps to decreasing large vehicle accidents

Know Where the Accidents Occur – a large portion happen when the vehicle is backing up or parking. We see a great many collisions where the truck is moving at walking speed. Just the other day a woman had her trunk and rear taillight damaged by a mission vehicle – while she was in the mission parking lot dropping off a donation. One risk management technique is to have one of the workers get out and guide the truck as it backs up, parks, or turns corners.

Carefully Select the Drivers of Large Vehicles – not every approved driver is a qualified driver of a large vehicle. Driving a 15-passenger van or box truck requires good training or extensive experience. My executive director friend now has a fireman who drives his donation truck. Requiring a CDL license could be a good standard as well.

Instruct and Monitor the Drivers of Large Vehicles – Your rules about stopping, speed, and vehicle checks should be clearly posted in every vehicle. One monitoring technique is to periodically have ride-alongs, as a reminder of the importance the Mission places on safe driving. Bad habits are contagious among drivers, so be sure everyone driving large vehicles have the right sort of attitude toward your driving rules.

The Merriam Agency provides free publications regarding driver screening and vehicle monitoring. Take a little more control in your Large Vehicle Risk. Contact your representative today to receive these no-obligation resources.

James Dick, CPCU, AAI