WDAM Investigates: Busted, chipped and cracked

Updated: Sep. 10, 2019 at 9:27 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - We all know there are hazards on the road, but perhaps the most annoying ones are the ones we don’t see, but hear, when it’s too late. If not taken care of, that chip gets bigger and starts cracking, all thanks to something like a rock, taking perfect aim at your once flawless windshield.

WDAM Investigates wanted to take a deeper look into that aggravation we all face, specifically when it comes to 18-wheelers and dump trucks and what you can do if your windshield becomes a victim.

“They are liable for that,” said Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King.

King said state law holds those trucking companies liable for those chips and cracks in your windshield. However, you have to prove it. King said you’d need to report things like a truck number, license plate, time and location to the trucking company. That’s not always easy to do.

“It’s a situation where the companies are liable for it, if a person catches a rock driving his vehicle, but it’s a situation where also it’s his word against their word,” said King.

Current law also requires trucks to cover their loads if that load is less than six inches from the top of the container, problem is, it’s not always enforced. An 18-wheeler WDAM got behind on the Evelyn Gandy Parkway in Forrest County was clearly breaking that law at the time.

When it comes to those signs trucking companies routinely put on the back of their trucks warnings drivers to stay back at a certain length, King said it’s not a law.

“That’s the trucking company hoping people with heed to that sign,” said King.

“If it was blatant and negligent by the other party than you could have some recourse against them, but usually anything that happens on the road becomes a, you know, it’s just a road hazard, because you would have to prove the liability. You’d have to have a lot of evidence," said Jim Morgan with South Group Insurance Services in Hattiesburg.

Because it’s not easy to prove that 18-wheeler in front of you caused damage to your windshield, Morgan said getting the right coverage is crucial. State law requires liability, but beyond that, it’s up to drivers.

“When you get to the portion of coverage that takes care of the physical damage to your vehicle, you have comprehensive and collision,” said Morgan.

It’s the comprehensive part that pays for things like glass breakage. So, if you find yourself needing a new windshield, but don’t have the coverage, you’ll have to pay up.

Of course commercial trucks aren’t the only way for your windshield to get banged up, and that’s a different set of rules.

"If you're behind a car and you catch a rock, that's considered a hazard, a road hazard," said King.

That’s also where that insurance policy comes in handy, which Morgan said can differ depending on the person and their car.

“If there’s no lien on the vehicle, some people opt not to carry the physical damage, but if your car still has sufficient value to it, it’s recommended that you carry the physical damage being the comprehensive and collision,” said Morgan.

King said because commercial and private drivers may be unaware of what current law requires, he’s not opposed to meeting with the Mississippi Trucking Association and other trucking companies to come up with a plan to better protect drivers and their windshields, reducing just a little bit of aggravation on the road.

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