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Effectively Implement Traffic Accident Review Boards

Christine McHugh, Esq., ARM
October 2020
How to establish a traffic accident review board to improve driver safety

Institution-owned vehicles are a significant liability for colleges and universities. Establish a traffic accident review board to help your institution manage this risk and promote safe operation of your vehicles. The board will investigate your institution’s vehicle accidents to determine whether they were preventable and what responsive action can be taken.

To effectively use a board in supporting a culture of driver safety and accountability, follow these recommendations.

Establish Oversight

  • Determine which office will oversee the board. Often, the office of general counsel, risk management, or insurance manages this board.
  • Select board members. Choose staff from the campus’ public safety team, transportation department, risk office, and police force to serve on the board.

Develop Guidelines

  • Develop a policy regarding review of accidents. Provide details about the board’s responsibilities. Enumerate the steps in the investigation and accident review process. Define preventable and nonpreventable accidents. Establish a standard for findings of responsibility. Explain disciplinary consequences for a preventable accident finding.
  • Consult with legal counsel. Ensure your institution’s policy and board meet all state law requirements.
  • Create an appeals process. Give drivers the right to have another committee or individual within your institution review the board’s decision.

Ensure Consistency

  • Develop an accident report form. This allows for a standard way to collect all evidence and information.
  • Determine what data the board should receive for each assessment. Consider including police and driver accident reports; driver and witness statements; police, insurance, or institution investigation reports; photographs; and relevant facts such as speed and visibility.
  • Maintain impartiality. Keep the driver’s name and any identifying details anonymous.
  • Create a model written decision. This ensures the board’s determinations are issued in a uniform manner.
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