CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Let’s say a dump truck with no tarp drops debris and sends it flying at your car. It chips the paint, dents the body or cracks the windshield. There’s no license plate on the back of the truck. No proof to connect your damage to that truck.
Your cell phone is the answer.
Cell phone cameras now allow drivers to document damage on the spot and to pull alongside dump trucks and get a USDOT number to track the truck.
“The North Carolina general motoring public can go ahead and take a cell phone picture and also get a tag of course,” says Trooper Shawn Hurley of the North Carolina Highway Patrol.
Trooper Hurley offers a quick word of caution. “Don’t do anything unsafe,” he says, like reaching for a cell phone or taking your eyes off the road
A WCNC.com producer took cell phone video of a dump truck with no tarp and no tailgate spilling wood chips down Woodlawn Road in Charlotte shortly before 1 p.m. on August 1.
North Carolina law requires truckers to secure their load, but there’s an exception.
“Tree bark, wood chips, mulch chips, stuff like that,” says Trooper Hurley.
That doesn’t mean truckers can spill wood chips with impunity.
“If the tailgate's missing they should have what's called a ‘diaper’ and it’s a big piece of canvas that encloses the rear end of the truck,” says Hurley. “If they don't have that, that's just being careless.”
Some trucks post signs on the tailgate warning trailing drivers that the driver is “not responsible” for cracked windshields.
“That is false,” says Trooper Hurley. “That sticker is trying to keep them out of liability for getting hit with unsecure load violations.”
Trooper Hurley suggests drivers carefully pull alongside the truck in a passing lane or at an intersection and document the name of the company or the USDOT number on the door.
Then he says you can call the Highway Patrol by dialing “*HP” on your cell phone and file an accident report for any damage.
Cell phone pictures can document damage and identify the truck, but the Trooper cautions drivers not to reach for the phone or take their eyes off the road.