The more often your church transports members and/or has staff that drives for church business, the greater the chances of experiencing an accident. Even though most employees and volunteers are skilled drivers, all it takes is one mistake, a mechanical failure, faulty equipment, or a lapse in judgment for an accident to occur. Take this claim for example:
According to one of the passengers, the driver of the vehicle stated the brakes were not operating correctly when he tried to stop. To avoid hitting several cars in front of him, he swerved, losing control and striking a concrete barrier. This caused the vehicle to flip over, land on its top and skid across the pavement. Tragically, the driver and two other passengers were killed.
To help avoid such a tragedy, it is essential to have a vehicle inspection and maintenance program in place. It is necessary to assign responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of church vehicles, as well as private vehicles, to a church employee or volunteer to help ensure it gets done. Also, establish a schedule for regular preventive maintenance to be performed by a mechanic. All maintenance records should be documented and kept on file for each vehicle. This will not only provide a cost record for each vehicle, but also permit the quick evaluation of prior maintenance on any vehicle and minimize exposure during litigation following an accident.
Items that should be inspected and maintained on a regular basis include the following:
- Brake system
- Steering and suspension systems
- Oil and lubrication systems
- Electrical systems
- Coolant systems
- Exhaust systems
- Tires and wheels
- Safety and emergency equipment
A program of part replacement should be implemented in which critical parts are replaced before in-service failure occurs. Examples of such parts include these:
- Brake shoes and pads
- Springs, shocks and struts
- Belts and hoses
- Tires – If there is less than 1/8 inch of tread left, the tires should be replaced.
Learn other factors important to tire safety.
- Windshield wiper blades.
Vehicle Maintenance and Inspection Records
Having a record of all maintenance and inspections performed on each vehicle is important in the event there were ever a claim involving that vehicle. This vehicle history file should record inspections and other important maintenance information, such as overhauls, rebuilds, and major repair work. Date of purchase, date and mileage of all preventive maintenance and repairs also should be noted.
The Importance of Maintenance
Many transportation accidents are caused by unsafe vehicles and poorly maintained equipment, such as old, worn, or improperly inflated tires; faulty brake systems; or windshield wipers that do not work. But, with frequent inspections and regular maintenance, a wide variety of equipment problems can be identified and corrected before they become dangerous.