Ensuring Safe Drivers

driver safetyRemember when driver safety seemed almost as simple as sticking the magnetic St. Christopher medal to the dashboard, and seatbelt use was optional? Those days are gone. Vehicle usage and safety are part of a large and growing area of liability exposure. Please take the following precautions to help ensure safety behind the wheel. 

Selecting Drivers

Whether hiring a driver for a specific job or recruiting a volunteer, the driver must:

  • Be 21 years old or older
  • Have a current driver’s license
  • Not have a physical disability that could impair his/her ability to drive safely
  • Have a clean driving record. A poor driving record is an impediment to insurance coverage, as well as a red flag about a person’s judgment. For more detailed information about obtaining a report and the criteria you should use when reviewing reports, please go to http://www.rcabrisk.org/parishes/auto/volunteer-drivers

In addition, if the driver is transporting minors, he/she must undergo a criminal background screening and complete Virtus’ Protecting God’s Children program. 

Each parish and school should keep an updated listing of all authorized drivers, including each driver’s name, current address, Social Security number, and photocopy of both sides of the operator’s license. 

Online Training

The Office of Risk Management is looking for new ways to improve driver safety. We would like to encourage our locations to take advantage of an online training program offered by Liberty Mutual Insurance called Decision Driving. This training is designed to improve a driver's ability to gather information and make good decisions. Liberty Mutual is offering a one-hour video that includes online assessments to show how well you understand the material presented. Training is free of charge to all of our locations. For more information, please contact Doreen Rearden. We also offer a training option for those who operate 10-15 passenger vans.

10-15 Passenger Vans

12-15 passenger vans are used as a convenient and cost effective transportation solution in many of our parishes, especially when planning field trips or pilgrimages. However, a serious exposure from rollover crashes continues to be a concern for these types of vehicles. Fortunately, with a little knowledge and advanced planning, these types of hazards can be avoided. We recommend drivers of 12-15 passenger vans take a brief online safety course offered by Liberty Mutual. To learn more about the course and safety tips for vans, please contact Doreen Rearden or go to: http://www.rcabrisk.org/vans

Vehicle Safety 

Drivers and their passengers should have the peace of mind of knowing their vehicles are in safe working condition. All diocesan-insured vehicles should be maintained according to the manufacturer’s recommended schedule. Well-documented maintenance contributes to safety and also saves money through prevention.  

In the event of an accident, all passenger transportation vehicles should be equipped with a first aid kit and a road safety kit. Road safety kits can be purchased through the American Automobile Association (AAA) and generally include emergency roadside flares, booster cables, a reflective safety vest, an air compressor with gauge, an LED flashlight, and spare batteries.

Reporting Accidents

Drivers should do the following:

  • Obtain medical assistance at the scene, as soon as possible, if needed
  • Contact local police, sheriff or highway patrol authorities, as required
  • Exchange vehicle and insurance information with each party involved
  • Do not comment on the fault of any party 
  • Should the other party become aggressive or confrontational, do not engage in  communication; wait for police to arrive
  • If you have a cell phone, take pictures of the vehicle(s) after impact, including license plate(s)
  • Contact Jane Dempsey as soon as practical to report the accident and transmit accurate and detailed loss information

Distracted Driving

Drivers should be made aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. These types of distractions include texting, talking on a cellphone, eating and drinking, and using a navigation system. 

To help educate your drivers, you may want to institute a distracted driving policy for your parish or school. For more information and for a sample policy, please go to: http://www.rcabrisk.org/distracted-driving

We recommend asking drivers to turn cell phones off prior to getting behind the wheel.

Motor vehicle safety is a significant component of parish and school operations. Administrators who take the time to ensure all staff and volunteers are properly vetted and trained will have more time to devote to other issues – and may very well be protected by St. Christopher himself!