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Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association


A non-profit trade association concerned with problems and interests of truck transportation within the State of Wisconsin

Rules Governing the Reporting of Accidents in the
Wisconsin Motor Vehicle Fleet Safety Program

(Only members of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association are eligible)

Reportable Accidents

A reportable accident shall be any accident in which the contestant's vehicle (company cars and maintenance vehicles are excluded) is involved, unless properly parked, where such accident results in death, personal injury, or property damage. An accident is reportable regardless of who was hurt, what property was damaged or to what extent, where it occurred, or who was responsible.

(a)        A vehicle shall not be considered to have been involved in an accident unless an actual contact, or collision, with another vehicle, an object or a pedestrian occurred, or unless the vehicle was in motion in a non-collision accident.  For example, if a pedestrian steps from a curbing into the street, sees an approaching vehicle, and turns to go back to the curbing, the fact that he stumbles, falls, and injures himself is not a reportable accident for the vehicle which was approaching.  Another type of accident which is preceded by, or even caused by, an action of the company driver, such as "cutting in", but in which the company vehicle does not come in contact with the vehicle which is damaged.

(b)        Non-collision accidents.  If a vehicle is improperly parked or is stopped in traffic, and is struck by a motor vehicle or other type of vehicle, or a bicycle, or a pedestrian walks into vehicle causing injury, the accident is reportable.

(c)        Allegations of mishaps.  Altercations with passengers, and fraudulent injury claims are not reportable accidents in the contest, even though the company may require a report of them from the driver.  However, should it be proven that there was a mishap which comes under the contest definition, the accident should be reported.  The above exception is designated to distinguish claims that an accident occurred from accidents which actually did occur.

(d)        A mechanical failure of some part of the motor vehicle which occurs during entirely normal use is not in itself a reportable accident.  However if this failure is caused by some impact or collision during the operation of the vehicle, it is properly reportable as an accident.  For example, the breaking of a spring on a vehicle is not in itself evidence of a reportable accident; it must also be indicated that the 'spring broke as a result of some shock or impact properly classified as accidental', such as striking a hole in the pavement.  If, however, the mechanical failure of some part of the vehicle, as for example the snapping of a tie-rod or braking of a spring, produces an accident in which there is damage to the vehicle other than the broken tie-rod or spring, or if there is injury, the accident is reportable.  This interpretation would also cover such an occurrence as a wheel coming off the vehicle and rolling across the roadway.  In this case the fact that the wheel comes off would not in itself constitute a reportable accident, but, if the wheel, in rolling across the highway, causes property damage or injury, or if the vehicle itself falls down upon the pavement with such force that some other part is damaged or a person is injured, the accident is reportable.

(e)       The occurrence of a fire in the engine or on the body of a vehicle is not in itself a reportable accident, even though the vehicle is damaged to a considerable extent, or entirely destroyed.  If, however, as a result of the fire the driver loses control of the vehicle and is involved in what is in other respects defined as an accident, then such accident is reportable.  If the vehicle is first involved in what is in other respects defined as an accident and a fire arising from this accident produces property damage or injury, the accident is, of course, reportable.

(f)        Accidents occurring on private property, even though company-owed property, are reportable.  However, if a vehicle is in the garage for repairs and slips from a jack, falling and injuring a mechanic, the accident is not reportable.  Other accidents which involve a vehicle in motion in the garage, or in testing after repairs on the streets outside the garage, are reportable.

(g)        Any accident which occurs while the company vehicle is in the custody of a non-company garage operated by a non-company driver, whether it is being towed, operating under its own power, or merely parked, is not reportable.

(h)        An occurrence whereby a street, highway or bridge is damaged solely as a result of the weight of a vehicle in ordinary operation is not a reportable accident.  This exception would not apply if the vehicle itself were damaged.

(i)        Animal accidents are not reportable unless someone was injured or some damage was caused to the vehicle or to some other vehicle or object other than the animal.  A further exception is made in the case of damage caused to the vehicle by a flying bird.  That is, headlights or a windshield broken by a flying bird are not reportable.  An exception is made also for accidents involving the striking of deer in the roadway providing the vehicle remains in the roadway following the occurrence.

(j)        Damage or injury caused by stones or gravel thrown up by vehicles in the ordinary course of their operations does not constitute an accident.  This rule applies whether the damage is to a vehicle or to other property as, for example, a store window.  Tar thrown up from the roadway onto a vehicle, even though it causes property damage, is not reportable as an accident.

(k)        Damage or injury caused by stones or other objects thrown at vehicles are not reportable accidents.

(l)        Damage or injury caused by branches blown from trees directly into vehicles or by an Act of God, such as being struck by lightning, are not reportable accidents.  In these situations, however, if the vehicle is thrown out of control by the incident, and for example, strikes a fixed object or other vehicle, or runs off the roadway and turns over, causing either additional property damage or injury, it is a reportable accident.

(m)       Unless a vehicle is properly parked, property damage or injury arising from objects falling either within the vehicle or off of the vehicle are reportable accidents.

(n)        If two vehicles of the same Contest fleet, collide, the occurrence is reportable as a single accident.  If, however, the vehicles are from different contest Fleets of a single company, it is required that two accidents--one for each fleet--be reported.

(o)        Accidents arising out of the repair or service of a vehicle standing in traffic shall not be reportable unless a second moving vehicle is directly involved through a collision.  For example, a driver attempting to jack a truck out of a mud hole crawls underneath the truck to adjust some supports, and the truck falls, breaking his leg.  Even though the truck may not have been properly parked, the accident is not reportable.

(p)        Properly Parked Vehicles.  A vehicle shall be considered properly parked when completely stopped in any part of the street or highway, or off the highway, where it is legal and in accordance with company rules to park such a vehicle or to stop for the purpose of loading or unloading passengers or materials carried by such vehicle.

            (1)        An accident occurring to a vehicle while it is stopped in a traffic lane near an intersection waiting either for an automatic signal to change, for an officer's direction, or for an opportunity to cross opposing traffic in making a left turn, is reportable, inasmuch as the vehicle is not properly parked under the above interpretation.  It has been found necessary to make this decision regardless of the responsibility of the driver, inasmuch as the question of responsibility cannot be considered in determining whether an accident is reportable.  While in some cases the driver of the vehicle which is stopped, waiting for an opportunity to cross an intersection, is entirely blameless, in other cases there is some responsibility for proper signaling and not stopping the vehicle to quickly.

            (2)       The rules have been interpreted to mean that, if a vehicle in an attempt to avoid an accident, pulls over to a curbing or completely off a highway and stops in a properly parked position and is, nevertheless, involved, the accident is not reportable.  This exception cannot be construed, however, to exempt a vehicle which "pulls as far off the highway as possible" but still has its left wheels on the highway, since the vehicle is then improperly parked.

            (3)       If a vehicle is parked and then, for example, as a result of a slight incline, starts into motion of itself and, driverless, travels into a collision with another vehicle or fixed object, the collision resulting in property damage or injury, the occurrence is prima facie evidence that the vehicle was not "properly parked", and the accident is, therefore, reportable.

(q)        Property Damage.  The contest rule is interpreted to mean that any accident involving any property damage, must be reported.  This does not mean, however, that ordinary contact between the bumper of a company vehicle, and the bumper of another vehicle, or the brushing of a hub cap against a curb, should be counted as an accident.  These are wear-and-tear incidents rather than accidents, except, of course, when there is actual crushing or breakage of a bumper or hub cap.  Contact with other parts of vehicles, however, are not wear-and-tear incidents and must be judged strictly on the facts as to property damage.

(r)        The Contest rule provides that an accident is reportable regardless of who was responsible.  Except for this rule the contest would result in numerous controversies over the responsibility of the company driver.  There are no adequate criteria for judging responsibility, especially where all judgments must be made from reports received by mail.  Payment of damages is an unsatisfactory basis, inasmuch as in minor accidents, damages are frequently neither asked nor given.  Some companies will claim that in courts they are discriminated against because of their size and they, therefore, would not be satisfied with a judgment of responsibility on the basis of payments.  There is a fundamental accident prevention reason for not reporting on the basis of responsibility.

            Most traffic engineers agree that in a given motor vehicle accident there are usually not one, but many causes which contribute to the accident.  So, to get the best accident prevention results, it is important to lay some emphasis on the accidents for which the drivers are apparently not responsible.


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This page last updated: January 30, 2014


Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association
P.O. Box 44849   •   Madison, WI 53744-4849   •   Phone: (608) 833-8200   •   Fax: (608) 833-2875

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