Motor Vehicle Accidents

For more than 100 years, motor vehicles have been utilized for transportation. Ready for a week at summer camp, a hiking excursion, or simply a Scout meeting or training session? How do we get there? Usually by car, truck, bus, train, or plane.

Incident Review #1

A committee chair was driving to a pack meeting at an elementary school when he struck an elderly pedestrian who was holding a young child. The pedestrian and the child were attending the same pack meeting.

Key Points

  • Mental and physical fatigue and distractions (including smartphones) are leading causes of motor vehicle crashes.
  • Look out for pedestrians everywhere, at all times. Very often pedestrians are not walking where they should be.
  • Be especially vigilant for pedestrians in conditions where visibility is poor, such as at night or in bad weather.

Incident Review #2

A 14-year-old counselor in training was assisting with the removal of camp trash. The Scout realized a bag of trash had fallen between the truck and the trailer being used to haul the trash. He bent to pick up the bag, but the driver, not realizing the Scout was between the truck and trailer, began to pull away. The Scout was knocked down and caught under the trailer.

Key Points

  • Workers in loading zones around trailers should be trained periodically on safe work practices and the hazards of the process.
  • Drivers should visually inspect the area around any trailer before moving it to assure everyone is clear.
  • High-visibility clothing can help personnel working around trailers and moving vehicles to be seen.
  • Visual verification of the location of workers—either directly or in mirrors—prior to moving is important.
  • Recognizing hazards and developing procedures for how to communicate during a project are important parts of a project plan.

Incident Review #3

A 16-year-old Scout was driving himself to camp from his home when he was involved in a fatal collision. The Scout’s father had requested that the Scout be allowed to drive himself to and from camp.

Key Points

  • The leading cause of death among 13- to 19-year-olds is motor vehicle accidents.
  • Sixteen-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age.
  • Scouting youth (those under age 18) are not insured under the Boy Scouts of America commercial general liability policy.

“Established public carriers—trains, buses, and commercial airlines—are the safest and most comfortable way for groups to travel. However, it may be necessary for small groups to travel by private vehicle.”

Incident Review #4

A 10-year-old Webelos Scout was attending a recruiting campout hosted by a troop at a local state park. It was reported that the Scout ran from behind a unit trailer across a park road and into the path of an oncoming golf cart being operated by a state park volunteer. As a result of the collision, the Scout struck his head on the pavement. He was rushed to the hospital by helicopter; however, he passed away from his injuries.

Key Points

  • Event planning should include evaluating the area or course for the activity and identifying and discussing hazards, including roadways, that cannot be avoided.
  • A Safety PAUSE (www. healthsafety/pdf/680-046.pdf) reminds Scouts to look both directions before crossing roads and that some vehicles are quiet and may be difficult to see could be appropriate.
  • Good event planning minimizes risks and also anticipates contingencies that may require an emergency response or a change of plan.

Incident Review #5

A 13- or 14-year-old SUV driven by a Scouter had a rear tire separate, causing a loss of control and resulting in the vehicle hitting a tree. One adult was fatally injured, and two adults and two Scouts were seriously injured. The tire that separated was reported as original to the SUV, making it at least 13 years old. The SUV only had about 30,000 miles on the odometer.

Key Points

  • Vehicle manufacturers recommend that tires more than 6 years old should be replaced.
  • Tires have a date code. Since 2000, the last four digits of the Tire Identification Number have represented the week and year the tire was produced. The two digits identifying the week immediately precede the two digits identifying the year.

Incident Review #6

A camp van was transporting campers to an outpost camp in the rain at night when the driver lost control of the vehicle. The van ran off the road and turned over, sending 10 people to the hospital. Subsequent investigation revealed a general lack of maintenance and the age of the van as contributing factors to the crash.

Key Points

  • Driving at night reduces one’s field of vision substantially, and unlit roadways or rain can further reduce visibility.
  • This incident was a catalyst for eliminating from use in the Scouting program 15-passenger vans manufactured before 2005 and those without electronic stability control and a seat belt for every passenger.
  • Drivers of large vans or SUVs should understand that these vehicles handle much differently than passenger cars, especially when loaded, due to a higher center of gravity.

“Driving to and from Scouting events results in the most frequent and severe claims for the BSA.”

Discussion Questions

  • Reflect on a trip that you would not want to repeat and share that story with the group, including what you would do differently today.
  • How do you plan to transport participants to your next event?
  • When was the last time you inspected the vehicles and trailers used to transport participants? What are the expectations for new drivers, vehicles, or trailers?
  • What effect will weather conditions have on transportation plans?
  • When can you schedule a Risk Zone training program or perhaps bring in a defensive driving instructor to conduct a class for your organization?