The Hidden Hazard in Aerial Adventure

Did you know that more than half of all claims in the zip line and aerial park industry come from a sector of our business that has no standards or standard operating procedures? That’s right, 51% of claims come from incidents involving UTVs, ATVs and vans.

Being the amazing operator that you are, I am SURE you are thinking “Hmmmm how can I develop policies, procedures and trainings to reduce my exposure when using vehicles?”  The good news is that it is pretty simple.  Here is how you can get started:

Define Driver Requirements

You should have an objective measure to determine if someone is qualified to drive for your operation.  At a minimum, you should review an individual’s motor vehicle report, conduct a background check, and require participation in an annual training.  Make sure to establish a clear policy for disqualifying drivers based on their motor vehicle report, for example 2 minor violations in 3 years or 1 major violation. Your insurance company can give you some guidance in this area, check and see what they recommend.

Implement a Driver Training Program

Add a driver training component to your annual training. This can be completed in just a couple of hours and should include an overview of the vehicle, pre-use inspection procedures, routes driven, identifiable hazards, and what to do if there is a breakdown or emergency.  A good driver training program not only reinforces the importance of safe driving, but can also reduce vehicle maintenance cost and add to the life of your vehicle.

Test Drivers

Once your drivers are trained, you will want to document their ability to meet the competency requirements you have defined.  This can include conducting a pre-use inspection, driving on difficult terrain, backing up or turning vehicles around, safe and attentive driving, and the use of proper signals.  You can administer a written test to gauge understanding of policy and procedure and a driving test to evaluate confidence and compliance behind the wheel.  All of these should be documented and conducted on an annual basis for anyone with driving responsibilities.

Approved Drivers Only

Seems like it goes without saying, but only allow drivers who have been trained and approved to operate vehicles on road or off. Worse than having no driver policy or testing procedure is to have one in place that you do not follow.

Complete Pre-Use Inspections

You have pre-use inspection requirements for critical components like zip lines, how about for your vehicles?  A vehicle pre-use inspection can help you identify mechanical issues or defects that may contribute to accidents and operational downtime.  A pre-use inspection checklist will vary based on the vehicle and generally should include checking brake function, tire pressure, indicator signals, fuel level, and cleanliness. You can find a variety of templates online and should build out an inspection checklist most suitable to your vehicle type and site-specific factors.

Streamline Your Driver Management Program

A driver management program is only effective when it is applied consistently and properly documented.  Papertrail is a cloud-based management tool that can help you reduce risk while saving time and money.  Use Papertrail for everything from approved driver record keeping, to managing pre-use inspections. Enhance your inspection records with checklists, vehicle specific information, and photographic evidence to support a robust inspection history.  All the details come together in a simple to read dashboard that gives you instant insight about who is qualified to drive, the status of your vehicle fleet, and more.  And Papertrail is not just for managing vehicles, it is a flexible and comprehensive record keeping tool that can help maintain compliance and accountability across your operation.  

Author: Cameron Annas, Vice President of Business Development at Granite Insurance
Cameron and the Adventure Sport Team at Granite Insurance specialize in insurance and risk management programs for operators, installers, and manufacturers located in the United States and internationally.  For further inquiries, please contact Cameron at or 828-396-3342