Is it an incident or accident?

November 20, 2022
Fleet Accident Reporting App - ONO App

Incident or Accident? Is there a difference and should we be labeling ‘driver cases’ as such? The answer to both of those questions is a yes!

At ONO we encourage drivers to report any form of accident or incident as it’s extremely important for fleet owners, insurers and brokers to be able to create a risk profile for the fleet as a whole and also for individual drivers.

So what’s the difference?

Incident: This can refer to any event that may be intentional or unintentional. An incident is something that has happened unexpectedly, which hasn’t caused any personal injury, but may (or may not) have caused damage.

Accident: A bad event caused by error or by chance. Accidents are always unintentional, usually resulting in damage or injury (either major or minor.)

Brain still fried?!

Let’s give some examples….


  • Passenger trips on a loose door seal.
  • Driver reverses into a parked car.
  • Third party drives into the side of a driver’s van.


  • A driver scrapes their wing on a width restriction.
  • The driver returns from the shop to find a broken wing mirror.
  • An angry passenger kicks the driver’s door.

Both accidents and incidents warrant reporting in all circumstances!

Why report incidents?

We understand fleet owners are busy and having incident notifications piling up for what may be deemed as an insignificant situation may only seem like extra work (unless you are using ONO < shameless plug!)

By building a profile of the incidents that your fleet drivers are having you can start to analyse where driver issues may be occurring. Seeing that Driver A has had 3 incidents in 2 months should be a trigger to talk to them, probe as to what may be causing these incidents and try to understand the driver behaviour pre and post incident. This is crucial in ultimately preventing an accident from happening…..(as we now know accidents are a more serious incident!)   

“An incident is an accident waiting to happen” muttered a wise old HR master!*

*We don’t know who, or if they were old and we’re not quite sure if they were in HR.

The above quote highlights the importance of being responsive to any incidents a driver may unintentionally (or intentionally)  get themselves into, helping a fleet owner minimise risk within their fleet. By minimising and analysing  risk you can help prevent more serious accidents happening, improving road safety,  driver behaviour and your fleets claim profile.

Throwing a curveball…

Just to confuse the matter a little more, all accidents can be described as incidents, but not all incidents are accidents! best shows how this may be the case.

“If a drunk driver runs his car into a group of people, that is an accident (he did not intend to do it; it was caused by alcohol and chance). It could also be described as an incident (“The incident occurred on Main Street at around 2:30 AM”).

If three people were arrested after fighting in a bar, that is an incident (but not an accident – because the fight was not by chance; they intended to fight).”

Ultimately an incident is more general, and an accident is more specific.

When it comes to managing this from a fleet or brokers perspective we recommend establishing a thorough workplace policy that clearly lets drivers know that all incidents (however minor they may feel they are) must be reported. This allows for transparent investigation, making sure that the occurrence doesn’t happen again, or that behaviour doesn’t get worse and result in an accident.

Sharpen your incident reporting and management. Get in touch with our team and we can show you how!

I want to be in the know!


I want to be in the know!