A Camera Can Save the Day

Recently a trucking company client told me a story. Their Safety Director received a telephone call from a man who stated that he was currently in the hospital. He told the Safety Director that he had been rear-ended by one of his trucks and he claimed that the truck driver simply took off after the collision. The man was putting the company on notice that he will be looking for damages and restitution.

It is generally accepted that a rear-end crash is the fault of the person operating the vehicle that crashed into the other vehicle unless it can be proved that the other vehicle made some inappropriate actions. But how can you prove that? If you don’t have any witnesses, how do you prove that the other vehicle did something wrong? Most provinces have what are called “Fault Determination Rules.” These are regulations that insurance companies follow when determining what percentage of fault those involved in a crash are responsible for. In Ontario, the fault determination rules have colored pictures and assign responsibility by percentage. Rear-end crashes are always the last vehicle in the sequence and are 100% to blame.

Well, what if a crash wasn’t your fault? What if someone cut you off at the last second? Worse, what if the other vehicle purposely caused the collision so that they can sue the company and the driver? This may not be prominent in Canada but it certainly happens a lot in the United States.

Getting back to the story, this trucking company has GPS systems in all of their power units. So it was not difficult to determine which tractor trailer was in the area of the alleged crash. The Safety Director quickly identified the unit closest to the incident and he then reached out by telephone to the driver involved and asked if anything unusual happened today. The driver was quick to respond. “Yes” he said. “A car cut me off at a toll booth and then slammed on their brakes, coming to an abrupt stop in front of my truck”. The Safety Director asked, “Did you have contact with the car?” The driver was adamant, “No way! That jerk cut me off and then slammed on his brakes as if he was trying to cause a collision with me. I know that I didn’t hit him and I have proof.” Of course, the next question from the Safety Manager was, “What proof do you have? We are facing serious allegations that the company will need to defend. The fellow in the hospital has made it abundantly clear that he is pursuing litigation against you and us”.

In this case the proof was that the driver had installed a Dash-Cam in his tractor. He had installed a two-hundred-dollar device that will save the company and the driver all kinds of grief and possibly money.

My point about this true story is that it happens more often than you might think. Staged collisions happen! Incidents are fabricated in the hopes of getting money. Pure and simple, it is about money and greed. The above story is all I know so far about this incident as it has not yet been determined how it will end.

The reason trucking companies are signaled out for staged events like this is that trucking companies have insurance and usually more insurance than the minimum amount required. So that is why a truck is often chosen to use in the staged lie. Also, trucking companies and their big trucks are not usually looked upon favorably in court. They are often perceived as the big bad bully. After a staged collision like the one in our story, the car driver may even back the car into something solid to cause more damage to the rear end of the car. Of course, the driver will certainly be “hurt” with some fake injury that is difficult to diagnose and disprove such as a back or neck injury. He will then sue for loss of enjoyment, pain and suffering and loss of income. The car driver may even sell the empty seats in the vehicle to others so that they can sue and profit too.

The risk of a crash allegation must be taken very seriously and trucking companies must defend them vigorously. It will be your driver’s word against the car operator’s word unless you have a good witness or you have a Dash-Cam. These cameras, which can be either a front facing only camera or a front and driver facing camera are a money saver. In the case of our story, it will prove that the truck made no contact with the car. The Dash Camera may even be the evidence needed by the police to lay charges against the car driver for making false statements and lying to the police. Serious charges for sure.

What is the point of my story? If your company doesn’t equip their trucks with Dash Camera’s then maybe, you as the driver should. It is a great way to protect yourself.

Please be safe out there.

Be safe out there!

Chris Harris
Top Dawg, Safety Dawg Inc.
@safety_dawg (twitter)

About Chris Harris, Safety Dawg

Chris has been involved in trucking most of his adult life. He drove truck for and worked in various office/management positions for a major truck company. His last position of 5 years in the safety department where he was responsible for the recruiting of Owner Operators and their compliance. He joined a trucking insurance company in 2001 and has been in the insurance side of things until making Safety Dawg a full-time endeavour.