Fleet vehicles are vital in the day-to-day operations of municipalities. Those with some of the highest values include
- fire vehicles, such as ladder trucks;
- public works vehicles, like large sanitation vehicles; and
- police vehicles, such as fully equipped patrol vehicles.
When these vehicles are damaged, the municipality is faced with a reduction in its ability to provide services. Employees either can’t work or must find alternate ways to complete their work. Claims often reveal practices that could prevent many of these losses. Examples include
- leaving space between parked vehicles so that fire cannot easily spread from vehicle to vehicle;
- parking vehicles in numerous locations when the possibility of inclement weather exists so that impacts from flooding, lightning and other causes of loss are minimized;
- being cognizant of where vehicles are staged when on site at loss locations; and
- inspecting vehicles and equipment at the end of a shift to make sure there are no “red flags” present that might result in a loss while property is parked and out of use.
Accidents with fleet vehicles may result in many different types of claims involving property, as well as liability claims. Liability claims involving automobiles and inland marine items are costly to settle and costly to defend.
Cities and towns need to make sure vehicle and machinery operators are trained on how to operate the vehicles and equipment they will be using. Retraining should occur periodically, and should also be considered when losses occur, in order to reinforce previous training.
Municipalities should require clean driving records of their employees who operate vehicles as part of their job. A procedure for checking motor vehicle records on all present and future employees who operate motor vehicles for municipal business — whether in municipal-owned or personal vehicles — should be established. The record should be checked before hiring an employee and at least annually after that. Form MV-70 should be used to request driver information from the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles.