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Staged Crashes – Making an Impact on Fleet Operators

Staged crashes, in which gangs of criminals stage a deliberate crash are becoming more and more common with fleets often being targeted as the gang knows that the vehicle is likely to be fully insured – and the driver less likely to ask questions as they do not own the vehicle.

The staged crash normally involves getting a driver to crash into the rear of one of the criminal's vehicles, which they get him or her to do by braking very suddenly at an unexpected time – and they often disconnect their brake lights so that it is more difficult for the driver to detect the sudden braking.

So just how can you defend yourself again this practice?

One of the best ways for drivers to avoid any rear end collision is to ensure that they leave a sufficient gap between their vehicle and the one in front, and they concentrate on their driving at all times. Many drivers travel too close and should allow a gap of at least two seconds in good weather conditions. When the weather deteriorates, a gap of 4 seconds is the least that should be left – and in ice, allow at least 10.

Information which has been gathered indicates that drivers involved in staged crashes have been distracted whilst driving – and so missed the sudden braking happening in front. Mobiles phones, adjusting in car entertainment and satellite systems, eating, drinking, or 'driving on autopilot' have all contributed to the gangs' success in staging crashes.

Everyone needs to be aware when behind the wheel, and just using our general powers of observation can prevent staged crashes: by reading the 'body language' of the car in front, you could identify a crash waiting to happen. Try looking for the following indicators:

>Have you noticed that the brake lights on the car in front are not working?
>Is the vehicle being driven erratically?
>Is the driver in the vehicle in front of you looking in their mirror unusually often and are any passengers in the car looking at you?
>Is the car in good condition?

All these points can give clues as to the likely behaviour of the driver in front, including the possibility that they are looking to stage a rear end collision.

Fleet vehicles are normally in good condition. For those who operate company cars, make sure that the drivers keep the vehicles up to spec. Tyres and suspension are especially important when avoiding accidents. Tyre performance deteriorates significantly below 3mm tread depth, especially in wet conditions so drivers should ensure that their tyres are legal (1.6mm minimum for cars) and organisations who need their employees to make work-related journeys should consider best practice and change their tyres at 3mm. Make sure the tyre pressure is correct as under or over inflated tyres will significantly affect stopping distances.

A concentrating driver, observing prevailing traffic and road conditions, leaving the appropriate gap between their vehicle and the one in front, in a well maintained vehicle should be able to avoid a rear-end collision – whether this is due to normal traffic conditions or criminal gangs looking to stage a crash.

Posted on 31st March, 2010