Accident Reporting and Investigation

Motor carriers are required by law to properly report and investigate accidents. Accident reporting and investigation also makes good business sense.

Accident Register

Motor carriers are required to maintain an accident register for three years after the date of each accident. The Department of Transportation defines a reportable accident as one (a) involving a fatality and/or bodily injury to a person who, as a result of the injury, receive medical treatment away from the scene of the accident and/or (b) one or more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident that require the motor vehicle(s) to be transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle. The information on each accident must include, at a minimum, the following:

• Date of accident

• City or town (or nearest city or town) in which the accident occurred

• State in which the accident occurred

• Driver‘s names

• Number of injuries

• Number of fatalities

• Hazardous materials released, other than fuel spills from the fuel tanks of motor vehicles involved in the accident

• Copies of all accident reports required by state or other governmental entities or insurers

Post-Accident Alcohol and Drug Testing

If a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver is involved in a fatality accident, the driver must be tested for both drugs and alcohol, whether cited or not. Drug and alcohol testing is also required when a CMV driver receives a moving violation citation and there are injuries or vehicles are disabled. For these purposes, injuries mean anyone involved in the accident who requires immediate medical treatment away from the scene. For these purposes, a disabled vehicle means any vehicle involved in the accident that is damaged to the point it can‘t be driven away from the scene under it‘s own power. Testing for drugs is required within 32 hours of an accident. Testing for alcohol is required within two hours of an accident. If initial attempts to test for alcohol are unsuccessful, the motor carrier must continue attempts for eight hours and document those efforts, whether successful or not.

What Drivers Should Do in the Event of an Accident

Make sure your drivers know what to do in the event of an accident:

• Stop at the scene of an accident

• Protect the scene

• Assist injured persons

• Notify the police

• Contact the dispatcher or company

• Talk to no one other than the police and their own company representative

• Call Sentry Insurance at 1-800-558-9257

• Fill out accident report

• Take photos of the accident scene with camera or cell phone if safe to do so

Sentry Accident Kit

The Sentry Accident Kit is designed to provide drivers with information and tools for accurate and timely accident reporting. It includes:

• Insured accident/cargo damage report

• Suggestions on taking photos of the scene

• Witness cards

• Driver’s exoneration form

• Pre-paid envelope addressed to Sentry Insurance to return the accident report, witness cards and exoneration form

Thorough Accident Investigation

Investigate every accident to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requirements. In-depth investigation and study of each accident will also help:

• Determine the causes of the accident so that actions can be taken to eliminate or control similar occurrences

• Determine whether or not the accident was preventable by the driver

• Provide a first line of defense in the event of a court action as a result of the accident

Hazardous Materials Incident Reporting

Special rules cover recording and reporting incidents for carriers handling commodities defined as hazardous materials, substances or wastes. As soon as practical, but no later than 12 hours after the occurrence of an incident, each person in physical possession of the hazardous material must provide notice by telephone to the National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802 or via their website Each notice must include:

• Name of notice provider

• Name and address of person represented by notice provider

• Phone number where notice provider can be contacted

• Date, time and location of incident

• The extent of any injuries

• Class or division, proper shipping name, and quantity of hazardous materials involved, if such information is available

• Type of incident and nature of hazardous material involvement and whether a continuing danger to life exists at the scene

The content of this material has been taken in large part from information published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. For more information, go to

Sentry Insurance is committed to helping you protect your business by providing resources to manage loss-producing situations and prevent accidents. For additional information visit, or call 1-877-832-1835.

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