Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Carwash Driving Tips that could save a life!

Many of you are painfully aware of the history of SUV incidences that have resulted in fatalities, major injuries and significant loss of property. Throughout my 15 year tenure in this industry I have accumulated a few helpful tips that could mitigate the chances of this happening at your wash.


1. Only designated drivers (other than managers) are permitted to operate a customer’s vehicle.

2. All designated drivers must have a valid driver’s license.

3. All drivers must have a minimum 3 years of driving experience.

4. It is recommended that all drivers wear distinguishing clothing so the management team can easily identify them.

5. Any handicapped or modified vehicles should only be driven by a manager or a driver specifically trained to do so.

6. All drivers should be required to pass a driving test administered by the owner or manager.

7. Each quarter, all drivers should attend a mandatory drivers safety meeting. All of those in attendance should be required to sign off indicating date and time of each meeting. (Download meeting attendance sheet.)

8. The owner should require all new drivers to present a copy of their drivers’ abstract from Motor Vehicles. This procedure should also be required of current drivers on an annual basis.

9. It is recommended that, if employees clean rugs at the entrance to the wash that they replace both front carpets on the passenger’s side until the vehicle is ready to be returned to the customer. This will eliminate accidentally placing them on the gas pedal.

10. The employee should start all SUV vehicles only when it is in park.

In addition I would suggest training the employees driving the vehicle off the conveyor to keep their hands on the ignition switch as an added precaution. This will help remind them to turn the vehicle off if a sudden acceleration should occur. Some washes also utilize the hazard flashers to alert employees when SUV vehicles are going through the tunnel.

During very busy days I know the temptation is to use all available employees for driving but those are the days when things are most likely to go awry. Please seriously consider always using only dedicated experienced and trained drivers exiting the conveyor at the very least. And always refrain from using youthful operators.

Many jurisdictions allow unlicensed drivers to operate a vehicle on private property. However, we had an instance some years ago where an unlicensed driver lost control of a car due to a malfunctioning gas pedal. It crossed four lanes of traffic and was lucky enough to only sustain vehicle damage without any bodily injuries. The unlicensed driver was not so lucky. Since the driver was now on a public road they were arrested on the spot. Another negative outcome was that even though this loss occurred as a result of the customer's vehicle malfunction the wash was 100% responsible. There was no defence once an illegal act is committed such as driving without a license.

If the Wash's exit opens out towards a public highway it is important to install approved barrier to prevent the vehicle from inadvertently accelerating into traffic.

Exterior car washes can also pose problems that could cause fatalities, personal injury and damaged property. Part of a successful safety management plan should include assisting the customers driving vehicles. This is often overlooked and can be solved with a few simple steps.

1. Train your employees to note any drivers that seem uncomfortable going into the wash. Most often these will be senior citizens who can be distracted or confused easily. In these instances it would be prudent to have the employee offer a designated driver manage the vehicle through the wash for the customer.

2. At the Wash's exit be sure that the instructions are clear as to what a vehicle driver should do as they exit. i.e. Stop, go, traffic lights, arrows directing traffic etc.

Please share your driving tips with us by posting a comment with the link below.