Letters: Tinted Windows, Crash Data, Broker Liability
These Letters to the Editor appear in the April 23 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.
You may want to clarify the following statement from the news item titled “Trucks May Have Tinted Windows, Group Says,” which ran April 6 in TTNews.com: “Truck owners are allowed to tint the windshields and side windows of a truck’s cab, which could protect drivers from harmful sunlight, the International Window Film Association said.” The problem is that not all states allow such tinting.
For example, I live in Wisconsin, where any tinting on the windshield more than 4 inches from the top is illegal for all vehicles. That is basically where cars have factory tint in front of visors.
And I got a ticket in Illinois for slightly tinted side windows; they allow nothing at all — no tinting of windows on a commercial vehicle.
I would like to comment on the decision by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to delay the crash data fault rulings, yet disclose to the public more information on fatal accidents (“FMCSA to Disclose Crash Data Despite Delay of Fault Rulings,” 4-9, p. 3).
I find this decision to be profoundly unfair to the motor carrier community, and it should not be implemented.
The breakout of the fatality numbers by the FMCSA should coincide with the implementation of the fault rulings. To do otherwise is a blatant injustice that can do irreparable harm to innocent, safely operating motor carriers.
For the FMCSA also to say they cannot trust the police to give an accurate account of accident details and causes is a slap in the face to law-enforcement personnel across the country. It simply makes no sense. We have to trust our police officers — who are trained and experienced in accident investigation — to give a fair and objective assessment of accident fault. Any “public” group providing input for an accident would bring emotion and motive into the decision.
Accountability for many accidents will be apparent immediately. For some, it may not be. Accidents could be classified as “accountable” or “not accountable.” And an “inconclusive” designation could be established as a means of classifying those incidents that just are not discernible.
While there may not be a perfect system to assign fault for every incident, there is definitely a more fair system that assigns fault in accidents where that fault is readily apparent.
I would like to relate as an example of a clearly “not accountable” incident that occurred with my company.
Our driver was eastbound on an interstate highway. A car that was heading west on the same highway suddenly lost control, veered into the median and flipped over. It went into a roll and then crossed the median into the eastbound lane in which my driver was traveling.
My driver performed an evasive maneuver that prevented a head-on collision. The car, still rolling, slammed into the side of the trailer my driver was pulling. One of the four passengers inside the car was killed.
There was absolutely nothing my driver could have done to prevent this accident. In fact, one of the state troopers on the scene thanked my driver for his skilled, evasive action and credited him for saving the lives of the other individuals in the car. They surely would have been killed had my driver not reacted in the manner in which he did and avoided a head-on collision.
Under the new FMCSA policy, this accident will show up on our record as an incident involving a fatality — with no further explanation about the facts. The public will be left to draw its own conclusions.
Our company’s and our driver’s safety scores and reputations will be harmed, when in reality our driver acted heroically and saved peoples’ lives.
This is a travesty, and I am sure there are many other carriers with similar stories. The FMCSA officials need to do the right thing and put the fault ruling in place as quickly as possible.
Specialized Rail Service
This is in reference to the story “TIA Pushes Broad Offensive to Lower Brokers’ Liability” (4-2, p. 4).
The Motor Carrier Act of 1980 set minimum insurance limits for carriers at $750,000. Those limits have not been raised in 32 years. If you go to any present-value calculator on the Internet and use a 4% inflation rate, you will find that the present value of $750,000 after 32 years, is about $213,000 in today’s dollars. To put it another way, you would need $2.6 million in today’s dollars to equal $750,000 in 1980.
Many carriers are still only carrying $750,000 in coverage, and when a truly catastrophic wreck occurs, $750,000 is clearly inadequate.
Lawyers facing an inadequate recovery for their clients then look at other parties to make up the difference. Brokers easily could decrease their exposure to liability simply by making sure the carriers they use have adequate insurance.
Law Offices of Morgan Adams
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