Hit & Run – was it you

We have coached
you before that when
you are involved in a crash,
safely pull over to evaluate and secure
the scene, exchange information and
take photographs. But what if you
didn’t know you were involved in a
crash.
Driving an 80,000 lb tractor trailer
combination on today’s busy roads
is a challenging task. So much so, it
requires a licensed professional to do
so – even then accidents happen. So
what should you do if after a couple
miles you are pulled over and told you
were involved in a crash that you have
no knowledge of. Not only involved,
but now are being accused of leaving
the scene of an accident.
Believe it or not it’s not so uncommon
of an occurrence where a truck clips
something like a tree, fence or even a
vehicle without knowing – especially
when turning. For me, having an office
on the 3rd floor near a freeway where
big trucks frequent is an awakening
experience. You regularly feel the
rumble of the truck’s mass and weight
coming down the street followed by
the jarring sounds of the trailers lifting
and falling back onto their couplers.
Being inside the cab with that going
on can certainly mask an event as
mentioned above.
Being accused of leaving the scene
of an accident is very serious. Being
convicted of that is far worse. Hit
and Run involving property damage
or injury/death can be charged as a
misdemeanor or felony depending on
the seriousness of the circumstances
involved. A conviction of a hit
and run is an automatic one year
disqualification of your commercial
operating license for the first offence
and disqualification for life for a
second offence.
If you receive a ticket for leaving the
scene, you’re going to need counsel
and you will likely appear before a
judge. The ticket is the driver license
side of things, but there is also a
criminal side that deals with intent.
The general standard for intent is, did
you or did you not know that you hit
something and left the scene and/or
should you have known that you hit
something being a professional driver
with your experience, your particular
vehicle and load.
Evidence helps. Just because you
are accused of being involved in a
crash, doesn’t mean you were. Inspect
your truck for any markings/damage
consistent with what is being alleged
and always take pictures. In one
case, our insured was able to provide
his load ticket and GPS tracking for
the day in question which proved he
wasn’t in the area at the time of the
crash. So taking note of the time can
be very important.
The bottom line is that any time you
notice something abnormal, you
should make an effort to check it out.
It may be nothing or there could be
an issue with your vehicle that could
create a bad situation or worse. The
point is not to dismiss a potential
warning sign. Like the Boy Scout
motto reads “Be Prepared” and their
slogan that reads “Do a good turn
daily”. For you drivers, those daily
turns are very important.