Q: Mike Spradlin of Norco said he recently saw two large trucks (a dump truck and a truck with a trailer carrying gravel) with signs posted on the back saying something like, “Warning: Keep back 200 feet – not responsible for cracked windshields.” Spradlin said he thought it is the driver’s responsibility to secure their load properly so no material falls out, potentially damaging other vehicles. “When I take a load of large trash items to the dump once a year, (Waste Management) tells me it’s my responsibility to cover the load, that I am liable. What is the law on this?”
A: It’s against the law to drive a vehicle on the highway which is improperly loaded so that any part of its load spills, blows out or falls out (with the exception of clear water or feathers from live birds), according to California Vehicle Code section 23114. CVC 23114 also explains how trucks should be equipped to transport aggregate material like gravel and rocks so the material is secure.
And those signs on trucks don’t absolve the driver of anything legally (nice try, though). California Highway Patrol Officer Dan Olivas of the Inland Division said the truck drivers could be trying to scare other drivers so they don’t report vehicle damage caused by falling rocks or gravel for which the trucking company might be liable. In any case, if your vehicle is damaged accidentally by falling gravel from a truck, and you can prove which truck caused the damage (perhaps with a dashcam), this would be a civil matter for a judge or an insurance company to decide. Olivas advised motorists to avoid driving behind or near trucks carrying gravel because of the increased risk of cracked windshields and chipped paint from falling debris.
Q: Brian Jennings of Rancho Cucamonga emailed On the Road a photo taken from his car of the 60 eastbound freeway off-ramp at Rubidoux Boulevard. The photo shows a shoulder area on the right side of the off-ramp, to the right of the driving lane with diagonal lines painted in it. Depending on the time of day, Jennings said, this off-ramp often has traffic backed up all the way onto the freeway and most drivers exiting will turn left to go northbound on Rubidoux Boulevard. During peak traffic periods, he continued, some vehicles will pass the backed-up vehicles on the right so they can turn right to go southbound on Rubidoux Boulevard. Jennings asked if a driver could get a ticket for passing on the right by driving in the area painted with the diagonal lines even if this reduces the potential hazard of cars being backed up to the freeway from the off-ramp?”
A: The answer is yes, this could bring a driver a ticket. The area to which our reader is referring is clearly marked off and is not a driving lane, Olivas said. Drivers should know the rules of the road and this includes not taking shortcuts to bypass traffic by driving in the shoulder or an area that’s not a legitimate driving lane.
Do you commute to work in the Inland Empire? Spend a lot of time in your vehicle? Have questions about driving, freeways, toll roads or parking? If so, write or call On the Road and we’ll try to answer your questions. Please include your question or issue, name, city of residence, phone number and email address. Write [email protected] or call 951-368-9670.