That pebble is the trucker’s responsibility – Orange County Register

Q. Recently, I was heading north on the I-5 freeway near Crown Valley Parkway. Ahead of me was a gravel truck. On the back of the truck was a sign, “Stay back 100 feet, not responsible for damage to autos.” Does this sign eliminate the truck’s responsibility?

Chuck Brauer, Dana Point

A. Nope.

“The sign does not absolve the driver from being in violation of the Vehicle Code,” said Marie Montgomery, a spokeswoman for the Auto Club, which among its services sells insurance.

“However, it’s smart to follow the sign’s advice to keep a good distance away from debris-loaded vehicles if you can,” she said in her email, “because as a practical matter, you may have to prove that his debris caused the damage to your car in order to collect anything from him.”

If you can safely, grab the front license-plate number (the trucker could be hauling someone else’s trailer). Or, from the cab’s driver-side door, a company name or a federal Department of Transportation number to pass along to your insurance firm, that would help.

Of course, only if you can do it safely – paying for a new windshield would be irksome, but a new you can’t be bought.

Your insurance firm might be able to get money from the truck driver to replace, say, your cracked windshield, and your deductible might be refunded.

“In many cases, if it’s a damaged windshield or something else minor, the repair cost won’t reach your deductible level and then you could try to sue the at-fault driver yourself to recover damages,” Montgomery said. “But you have to decide if that’s worth the trouble.”

Q. I understand from an article in the Register that many minor or fix-it violations are criminal offenses and require a court date. Some mentioned violations were tail-light failure and failing to use turn signals. Is this correct?.

Edna Reid, Laguna Woods Village

A. Honk got the lowdown from Paul Fox, an officer and spokesman for the California Highway Patrol out of the Santa Ana headquarters.

Yes, low-end violations such as a missing windshield wiper or a burned-out light are criminal offenses, but extremely low-level ones called infractions.

An officer can choose, on some violations, to give you a fix-it ticket.

Awhile back, a different officer told Honk that if a motorist has previous violations for the same offense, he would just issue a full-fledged citation instead of cutting a break and handing out a fix-it ticket. Honk suspects if you fail the attitude test,…

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