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Author Topic: Fender-bender in my bus  (Read 5159 times)
Casper4104
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« on: July 31, 2006, 08:06:24 AM »

Oy vay, what a weekend.

Finally used the bus for its main intended purpose.  I left Friday afternoon for a 2-1/2 hour run up to just outside of Cleveland OH to teach a motorcycle safety course.  We taught classroom Friday night, taught the riding exercises Saturday, and concluded the riding exercises Sunday.  I slept in the bus Friday night and Saturday night and it was just great.  At the end of the day I didn’t have to go anywhere, I cooked my own meals and saved some restaurant money and of course saved two nights of hotel charges.  The bus began paying for itself this weekend.

Good news, students were great.  Eager to learn and interested in the material.  The beginners learned basic skills, the people with riding experience refined their skills, everybody had a good time, and everybody passed the course.  5 ladies and 7 guys, which is about typical.

Bad news, I had a fender-bender with the bus.  Here’s what happened.

I went out Saturday afternoon for some munchies and a bag of ice.  It was about a 2 mile run to the grocery store.  Coming back from the grocery store, I was traveling a suburban 4 lane undivided road with a stoplight at the end of each (long) block.  Speed limit is 35mph.

I was in the left lane ready to make a left turn 300 yards ahead to return to the class site.  I was doing about 30mph, with nobody in front of me.  Traffic was light, with a few cars passing me on the right because of my slow speed.

In the middle of the block is a driveway on the right leading to the fairgrounds, no signs, no traffic lights – there was a little festival of some sort going on.  I had just been passed (on the right) by 2 cars.  When I’m maybe 200 feet from the driveway, a “Police auxiliary” guy jumps out in the middle of the road to stop traffic.  He wants to let the shuttle bus hauling festival goers out.

I mumble the S word, push in the clutch and hit the brakes pretty hard, thinking “this is gonna be close”,,,

At this point one of the brain surgeons that just passed me makes a lane change right in front of me, and makes one of those little quickie stops that minivans can do and bus conversions can’t.  I say the S word out loud this time, hit the brakes full and hit the air horn.  I was probably down to 5-7 mph with I hit him.  I did check to my left – there was oncoming traffic so I couldn’t swerve around him.

Damage to the minivan was fairly light.  Tailgate bashed in, bumper fascia scuffed.  Quarterpanels looked perfect.  Damage to my bus almost nil.  Nobody was hurt.

The cop that came a few minutes later took statements and wrote me a ticket for “Failure to stop in assured clear distance ahead”.  I protested that I had miles of “assured clear distance ahead” until Captain Minivan pulled that lane change, and he explained that my front hit his rear, and the law pretty much required that he write the ticket.  I said that I’d contest the charge, and he pointed out my court date and said “I think you might have a legitimate beef.  I put the sudden stop by the aux guy and the lane change in the report.”


Ok, I have two questions for the gang.

1. Any ideas what I could have done to prevent this?  I’m a motorcycle safety instructor and fairly experienced heavy truck driver, though the bus is fairly new to me.  I have about 3000 bus miles under by belt now.  Motorcycles and big trucks teach you to avoid trouble, and I think I’m generally pretty good at it.    I think I was doing everything right.  I had good lane position, I was proceeding at a safe and prudent speed, I had nobody in front of me.

2. Do you guys think I have a prayer of beating this ticket?  My insurance is great and I don’t think this will affect my coverage or costs, since I haven’t had an at-fault claim in nearly 20 years, but this is about principle.  The smart play would probably be just to pay the lousy ticket and get on with my life, but I don’t want to do that.  What do you guys think?


That’s it.  I hope your weekend was better than mine.  Let’s be careful out there,,,

Casper
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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2006, 08:23:26 AM »

Hi Casper,

Sorry to hear about your fender bender! It's something we all fear with our busses....

At this point, I think you should fight the ticket which I'm sure carries points. Do this first!

Than your insurance Co. will handle the rest pending the outcome of your court Date.

Do you have any witnesses? Do they have any witnesses? Without them, it's he says/ she says.......

Good Luck
Nick-
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« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2006, 08:25:42 AM »

Casper, so sorry about your accident! What a bummer. Glad nobody was hurt. The minivan idiot could have been killed doing something like that. Sometimes you have to choose the best course of action in split seconds... and I think you chose the best one. Evasive manuvers in a heavy vehicle seldom work out even if you had a clear path in another lane... and sounds like you didn't.

Heck yeah, I'd try to beat it. If someone pulls in front of you and slams on the brakes, they have some culpability, I'd think. Show up to court with a big diagram plan of the roadway and a mini-timeline... #1, #2, #3, etc., approx. speeds, etc. Make sure that you show the path of the minivan to be very abrupt on your plan. Have some pics of your bus, weight ratings, etc.

Good luck & keep us posted!
Brian
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« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2006, 10:47:26 AM »

A rear-ender is pretty hard to beat but, it's been my experience that going to court and being heard will usually result in adjudication withheld and no points, no insurance increase.  It's worth it even if you end up paying the fine (and you probably will).

Len
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« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2006, 10:56:29 AM »

By all means fight the ticket.  There have been many cases of insurance scams where what happened to you is what they do to try to get big damage claims.  For what it is worth you might want to talk to a lawyer, dirty word,  The money you spend on a lawyer might pay big divendends since you are a motorcycle saftey instructor and truck driver.
By the way I took one of the motorcycle saftey courses when I started riding again after 30 years and it sure taught me a lot.  I recommend the course to everybody.
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« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2006, 11:48:14 AM »

Casper,

I am also sorry to hear about your fender bender.

I had a similar incident once where a guy pulled in front of me to stop and pick up a girl hitch hiker.

He stopped in the road near a light and I tapped the rear of his car,  I also received a ticket.

I did exactly what Brian suggested and explained (humbly) what happend with some diagrams.

As I was, and you probably will be, the only case of the day with drawings and the like, the judge dismissed my case.

I was amazed at how many people came to court dressed for the beach.  I think my appearance and the time I took to present my case

was appreciated by the traffic judge.  Good luck with yours.

Cliff
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« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2006, 02:16:46 PM »

Call several lawyers who are local to the court. The first call is free, so make good use of this courtesy by calling as many as you can. You will learn who the good & bad ones are. You will also learn some law & have a better idea as how to present your case.

A good lawyer will know the traffic code & be able to tell you how to use it to your advantage.

If you present your case properly (you need to cite laws the minivan broke & you were following, judges love that stuff), there should be no problem in getting cleared since your record shows you are a safe driver.

The diagrams will help show you were acting in a reasonable & prudent manner, unlike the minivan who was driving in a reckless manner by his abrupt lane changes, etc...

I was once charged with reckless driving. Since this was so serious a penalty if convicted, I hired a lawyer. Best $$$ I ever spent. After my lawyer recited the law to the judge (in my favor, of course), all charges were dropped & the cop was reprimanded by the judge. Man that cop was pissed at me.

Good luck & may justice prevail.
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« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2006, 02:38:50 PM »

I'd be thinking that aux cop who jumped out and stopped the traffic in a less than timely fashion is key to the whole mess.

Little to no training on how to stop traffic, negligent behaviour by the pretender, minivan driver changes lanes while panic stopping for the badge without regard to the bus that was just passed, investigating officer just wanted it done with.

Fight the good fight, insurance company only cares what you just got caught doing, not the last 20 years...

Good luck and be:

happy coaching!
buswarrior
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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2006, 03:30:13 PM »

This has me thinking....Hummmm.......

I'll bet we can rig up a camra/ recorder system in our coaches to record while we are driving.

This system can be very simple. We can make it so that we can just record over the last trip we took.

If you think about it, we can really be big targets for some hotshot lawyer who may say that we could be inexpierenced,

or that we drive a commercial type vehicle without an equivelant license, no legal certifications to operate such a vehicle, or

that we have no legal papers to varify that we properly inspect our coaches for highway safty......ect.

What do you guy's think?  Let's hear some input.

Nick-
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2006, 07:11:08 PM »

`I'll bet we can rig up a camra/ recorder system in our coaches to record while we are driving.'

There are security video systems on a few of my employers coaches. It's a loop setup, wherein hard drives are over-written every half-hour or so. Whenever you have an incident, you push a button, which stores/locks/protects the previous 15 minutes of recordings.

This is a six-camera system, primarily intended to monitor our lovely clientele. Of course, the cameras are obviously there, on top of signs warning of their presence and operation, so in effect, they only catch the REALLY STUPID bad guys.
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« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2006, 07:21:44 PM »

Lightfoot,

Yes, but we would only need one camra facing the road ahead. Just like the cop cars have!

Any other ideas out there?

Nick-
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« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2006, 08:43:45 PM »

Casper -

I agree w/ Buswarrior & Kyle - Get a "liar-for-hire" involved to find and subpoena the rent-a-cop, then beat him up on the witness stand in court - putting the negligence for the accident on him and his company for its lack of training, not to mention the minivan driver for doing something stupid.

FWIW. . .
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« Reply #12 on: July 31, 2006, 09:12:59 PM »

Not a rentacop guys, Police Auxiliary. Mostly retirees that the PD employs to help with traffic control and such.

The reason this was so unexpected was that I didn't recognize him as an officer.  Older guy, in jeans and a dark blue shirt (with badge) and a ball cap.  No radio, no utility belt, no gun.  He was facing the road, so I didn't see the badge until he turned to his left and raised his hand.

Until he raised his hand and the tires started squealing, I just thought he was some gray haired dude waiting for a cab or something.  There was nobody waiting to exit the driveway, shuttle bus was nowhere in sight.

I'm not sure what I'll do yet.  I need to find out how many points, how big a fine, and what will this do to my insurance.  I'll make a couple of trips on principle, but I'd not inclined to blow serious money on an attorney if this is just a $60 ticket.  We'll see, I'll let you guys know.

BTW, to get a lot of opinions, I posted this same tale on that other board.  they're not quite so charitable to my situation over there.  That's OK, I was there, and I know that BJ McKay, Sonny Pruitt and the Snowman would have done the same thing I did.  Big Joe and Phantom 309 might have done something heroic - I just proved that I've been around big trucks for a while huh?   Smiley

Thanks for the input and advice guys.

Casper
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« Reply #13 on: July 31, 2006, 10:01:24 PM »

It might also help if you should go to court to have a mechanic give you a written statement on the excellent mechanical condition of your bus. In my state, (Virginia) if you are found to be at least 1% at fault, (like brakes out of adjustment, marker light out, etc.) even though the other person is 99% at fault, you can still be found guilty. I agree with the other posts, know your state laws, go prepared, and fight it. If you’re insurance company gives you a freebee that’s great. But if you use it, there goes your buffer zone. My insurance agent claims that regardless of how many good years of driving one may have that statistically, after the first accident claim, often there is a second. I do not know why that is but he has the numbers to show it. FWIW.
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« Reply #14 on: July 31, 2006, 10:51:01 PM »

Casper, 

You may have been around big trucks too long.  Haven't heard those names in decades, bring back memories.

Tom
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« Reply #15 on: August 01, 2006, 12:20:55 AM »

I really like Nick's idea about rigging up a forward-facing camera for recording - there are lots of situations where that could be beneficial. I was already thinking of doing the same with my reversing camera, for use as a security camera when the bus is parked and I'm not there. If I can figiure out how to get one camera to record to disk, adding an extra camera on the front would be no bother at all.

Jeremy
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« Reply #16 on: August 01, 2006, 04:18:14 AM »

Hey Casper, you forgot C. W. McCall  10-4  Jack
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« Reply #17 on: August 01, 2006, 06:33:02 AM »

Ok Jack, let’s see how far I get.

In the dark of the moon on the 6th of June in a Kenworth, haulin’ logs.
A cabover Pete with a reefer on, and a Jimmy – haulin’ hogs.  We,,,, something.

I grew up in a trucking family.  My grandfather drove a 2-1/2 ton up the beach at Normandy, and then on across Europe.  Then he came home and used a GI loan to buy a dump truck.  When he and Granny were a young couple that dump was the only vehicle they had.  On Saturdays my Grandmother would put on her heels and pearls and go visitin’ and get groceries in the truck.  She wasn’t so good with mirrors, so she’d put the truck in reverse (reverse was really, really low), drop the clutch and climb out and stand of the running board where she could see to back up.  We have photos of her doing this.  She never hit anything, by the way.  (Another by the way – my Grandmother was a real hottie back then).  Pop retired with several million safe miles in ’83.  Prostate cancer got him in ’96.

My dad grew up riding shotgun in this and that, and when he was barely old enough he got a job delivering home heating oil.  Over his career he did a lot of jobs, but he always seemed to come back to driving.  He’d do something else for a while, but pretty soon he’d get that itch.  I never saw anyone enjoy their work so much – he just loved to climb up in that cab and go somewhere.  He was killed in an accident in December ’99 at the age of 52.  I miss him terribly.

My dad taught me jockey tractors around the lot on Saturdays when I was a kid.  One of my first jobs was washing trucks – I would check oil and a few other things, move the tractor to the bay and pressure wash it, look the interior over and sweep or vacuum if needed, move the tractor to the pumps and top up the fuel, and put her back.  I was 14 at the time.  My first real road miles were in an R-model Mack, and I did a lot of driving in my young adult years.  I do something else for a living now in the interest of sanity and marital continuity, but that truck thing never really leaves you.

When you grow up like that, Truckers in the news and on TV are heroes.  I loved Will and Sonny, BJ & the Bear, Snowman (from the Smokey & the Bandit movies), Big Joe & Phantom 309 & Teddy Bear and all those other Red Sovine characters.  We used to haul cowfeed out of Williamsburg VA up to the big dairy farms around Roanoke, and we’d listen to Big John Trimble on WRVA radio – broadcasting out of White’s truck stop in Raphine VA.

Awwww,  made ol’ Casper get a little misty for a second there.
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« Reply #18 on: August 01, 2006, 06:35:44 AM »

Oh yeah, and my FCC license was Sidekick - KAXE3821
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« Reply #19 on: August 01, 2006, 12:04:57 PM »

Casper,   In what city or town did this happen?     Denis
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« Reply #20 on: August 07, 2006, 08:56:46 AM »

 Casper,
This post will never make the "important" list, but so far, nobody told me I should avoid writing "fluff" on this board...Just had to tell you I enjoyed reading about your grandmother, dad, and you at an early age.  Also found your mention of hauling feed to the big dairy farms in the Roanoke area.  Chances are that I know a couple of them from my early years.  Huffman, Jamison, and a few others.  Good readin".
Dennis
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« Reply #21 on: August 07, 2006, 09:11:13 AM »

Let's see if I can do two posts in a row.  I should also mention that the major railroads use cameras on the diesel locomotives, primarily to monitor what they call "grade crossings" or RR crossings since these crossing accidents continue to plague the railroads and usually result in fatalities.  (It's nearly impossible to judge the speed of an approaching locomotive, but that's another story.) 

The system, called "Railview" I think, uses some type of continuous loop technology.  That's about all I know about it, but I'm sure we could learn more details from someone who is involved with it.

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« Reply #22 on: August 07, 2006, 11:45:08 AM »

Quote
My dad taught me jockey tractors around the lot on Saturdays when I was a kid.  One of my first jobs was washing trucks – I would check oil and a few other things, move the tractor to the bay and pressure wash it, look the interior over and sweep or vacuum if needed, move the tractor to the pumps and top up the fuel, and put her back.  I was 14 at the time.  My first real road miles were in an R-model Mack, and I did a lot of driving in my young adult years.  I do something else for a living now in the interest of sanity and marital continuity, but that truck thing never really leaves you.

Man, you got me.  I worked one summer at Olen Burrage Trucking Company in Philadelphia, MS just before I went to College my Freshman year.  I was a truck washer and worked my way up to steam cleaner.  Got to ride shotgun to Jacksonville, FL with a grizzled veteran trucker.  One of the best times of my life!  The best thing about that nasty job was that when I was through washing the trucks, I could pull them around and park them.  Lots of memories.  Once you sit behind the wheel of a long nosed Freightliner, your really never the same.  I've often told my wife that if all else fails in my career, I could always drive a truck!  Honest work.

Jimmy
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« Reply #23 on: August 07, 2006, 03:17:29 PM »

Also sorry about your incident.  I can't speak for your (that) area ... but I'd make a phone call to either (or both) the courthouse and/or DOT (although I do hate calling DOT) to confirm whether or not the ticket carries points.  If it does, I'd talk with the procecutor and see what they can do.  They might be able to go to a 'non-point' violation -- still requiring you to pay something.

"IF" it does carry points, I'd explore this option before a trial.  If you lose the trial and it carries points, the least of your worries will be the fine costs.  If the DA will offer nothing ... then go to trial and take a chance.  If the DA will do something, but you feel 100% "not at fault" ... and decide to take a chance on a court hearing.  You still might be S.O.L. if you lose.  I'd take a deal if one is presented, and eat the fine.  The gamble ... if points are involved ... ais too great.

Insurance companies care not about principle when they decide to raise your rates, or worse yet ... drop you.

Jerry H.
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« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2006, 01:30:29 PM »

Don't think of an accident as a BAD thing.............We have plenty of replacement parts. It can make for interesting stories, you can meet exciting new friends (Lawyers, the person you wrecked into, policemen, the salespeople at IBP, etc....), you can learn how to replace body panels on your coach (a trade we should all know)....etc.........We love the poles by sharp corners, large rocks covered by grass, the yellow poles in the Wal-Mart parking lots, tight campgrounds & guard rails, and our wives.

Rich
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« Reply #25 on: August 10, 2006, 01:47:01 PM »

We love the poles by sharp corners, large rocks covered by grass, the yellow poles in the Wal-Mart parking lots, tight campgrounds & guard rails, and our wives.


Rich, you must not have seen my recent thread... because you need to add houses to your list!

 Cheesy Grin

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« Reply #26 on: August 10, 2006, 04:21:50 PM »

Please Rich, tell me you didn't run over your WIFE!?! Grin  Christy Hicks
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« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2006, 10:47:00 AM »

Casper - request a copy of the accident report - immediately set it for hearing - notice your insurance company NOT to settle any claims since you are fighting the ticket - Using YOUR state statutes and the STATE MV CODE, SUBMIT 'a corrected accident report' to the Law enforcement agency, states attorney,and court of jurisdiction - include in the 'corrected' accident report all the MV codes the 4 wheeler violated during and just prior to the accident along with pictures of the scene (use friends to 'pose' at the locations of other MV's or Pedestrians) and a diagram with measured distances from the pertinent reference points. You may wish to have your vehicle Inspected and Certified compliant with a brake application test and record of stopping distances. If you do a good job they'll probably dismiss the ticket  ..... or you can just pay the fine and let the Ins. company deal with it.

If are considering the former - you can Email me and I'll FAX you a copy of what I'm talking about as an example (It works) - FWIW
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« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2006, 02:17:46 PM »

 In answer to the ideaabout the forward facing camera (this is my first post by the way). I have seen in some security catalogs hard disk digital recorders that record up to 900-1000 hrs before it loops. There were also tape based media butwe are trying to be up to date, right? And if you take the digital version into court the judge and jury if it gets that far will be impressed wyou for having the IQ to have something like that on a "bus". I believe we all have had someone who looked down on us for our passion for the bus but if we continue to show them our superiour intelligence then maybe one day they will start to get the message about the abilities and safety of these behomeths we love so.
                                   Be Blessed, Brian
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« Reply #29 on: August 13, 2006, 07:53:07 AM »

So far, I've only found one link to cameras such as is being discussed here at www.drivecam.com   but I am working with a friend who is much more oriented in this direction than I am.

Also, I plan to PM Jim Shepherd and bring his attention to this thread.  No doubt there will be enough interest generated to bring this up again perhaps in a new thread.

As for me, my bus will not move until I find some sort of system which will record all activity in front of the coach when it's moving.
Without question it will make a better driver of me as I plan to review it daily while on the road.

Bob
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« Reply #30 on: August 13, 2006, 10:25:21 AM »

Hi All.  Bob, I got your PM.  Thanks for the head's-up.  I had followed this tread when it first started and then did not follow up. 

I have not had any requests for a recording camera.  Right now I seem to have my hands full with the products I carry and the various trade shows Cool.

Having said that, I will take a look and see what might be available.  My security hardware supplier might have something along that line. 

We are at the FMCA Convention and have spent the morning setting up our booth (maybe half done).  Things will be hectic for a few days, so give me a bit of time and I will see what is available from my suppplier.

 
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
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Blog:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/
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