FLEET operators in Kirklees have been warned to steer clear of staged “slam-on” collisions.
The warning comes from Dr Will Murray, research director for Bradley-based Interactive Driving Systems, which specialises in helping organisations around the world improve the safety record of drivers.
His comments follow statistics suggesting an increase in this type of fraud, which often targets the drivers of liveried fleet vehicles.
Dr Murray said: “Induced collision fraud represents a serious threat to public safety, estimated to cost hundreds of million pounds a year by UK insurers.
“Gang members either purchase and insure low value vehicles or use hired vehicles and then forceinnocent members of the public and fleet vehicles to crash into them.
“By ‘inducing’ an innocent driver to collide with them, the fraudsters can rely on a highly positive chance of the acceptance of insurance liability.
“Multiple claims are subsequently submitted for the driver and – often fictitious – passengers. According to insurers, who continue to work hard to mitigate this risk, the average insurance bill per induced collision is £25,000 to £30,000.”
Dr Murray said common methods of inducing crashes included “roundabouting” where a fraudster disconnects the brake lights of his vehicle and drives around busy roundabouts or slip roads looking for victims. Once a victim is selected, the fraudster drives two to three metres in front of target and breaks sharply.
A variation on the theme is the “roundabout shunt” where a fraudster stops at a busy roundabout and waits for a potential victim to pull in behind him. The fraudster then pulls quickly onto roundabout, but stops two to three metres onto the roundabout. The potential victim’s attention is usually focused on checking for traffic emerging from the roundabout to their right, as they themselves pull onto the roundabout. Consequently, they are unlikely to see the stationary vehicle directly in front of them – until the inevitable shunt.
Another variation is the “Russian Method” where the vehicle in front of you slams on the brakes after a third vehicle overtakes at speed and then cuts them up for no obvious reason. In fact, the overtaking vehicle is part of an organised “tag team” colluding in order to provide a “cover story” for why the vehicle in front of you braked quickly.
Dr Murray said possible signs of a planned induced collision included the occupants in the vehicle in front of you turning around and looking at you out of the rear window – to ensure the trap is ready to be sprung.
The occupants may gesture to their driver to “slam on” seconds before the vehicle stops dead in front of you. Vehicles ahead may navigate the same roundabout several times – a sign that they are looking for a suitable victim to target.
Other suspicious behaviour includes the vehicle in front – with which you have just collided – does not stop at the scene, but drives on. The driver subsequently returns on foot to prevent you inspecting the damage to the fraudster’s vehicle or to stop you identifying the number of passengers in the vehicle.
Following an induced collision, the driver of the vehicle you have run into may appear well-prepared with written details of their name, address and insurer. Witnesses may appear from nowhere to corroborate your liability for the collision.
Dr Murray said: “If you think you have been targeted for an induced collision, never admit liability at the scene. Do not confront the other party or take any action that you feel might place you at risk. Call the police from the scene and report the collision. Invite the other driver to remain with you until the police arrive.
“Be vigilant at the scene. Count the number of occupants in the other vehicle, ask for the names and addresses of all people present, including any reported witnesses, together with the make, model, registration and owner of the vehicle with which you have collided.
“Note the insurance details of the driver of the other vehicle, record it from what the other person tells you, not by asking them to write it down. Note any distinguishing features of the driver and passengers. This is useful evidentially in disproving subsequent insurance frauds.
“Take photographs if you are able to without risk of confrontation. Record information about the location and extent of damage to the other vehicle in detail. Write the fullest possible account of the incident and all related details as soon as possible after the collision. And report any concerns to the police, fleet team, your manager or insurer as appropriate.”