As many people in the personal injury area have spoken of numerous times, both here and elsewhere on the Web, the trucking industry has not exactly been a paragon of safety or vigorous self regulation. In fact, as many may already know, some truckers and commercial trucking companies have gone out of their way to flout the law, as well as state and federal regulators in an effort to cut costs, improve profits and avoid fines and penalties for unlawful acts.
That said, we agree that these violators likely represent a small fraction of the trucking industry as a whole; however, such a statement may be cold comfort to families of victims killed or seriously injured in tractor-trailer collisions. As Maryland personal injury attorneys, we understand how much pain and suffering can be meted out by a 80,000-pound semi tractor-trailer rig whose driver may have negligently caused to crash into a smaller passenger vehicle.
As an aside, we will remind our readers that being caught up in a trucking-related crash can prove to be a harrowing and sometimes fatal occurrence. Many a Maryland motorist has been trapped in a crushed vehicle, perhaps one that has caught fire as a result of a collision with a big rig or commercial delivery truck, and had to wait helplessly for emergency responders to arrive and rescue them.
Sadly, some victims never make it to safety and die at the scene of a terrible traffic wreck. Others, having been rescued and transported to a local hospital, were likely injured so severely that months of physical therapy would be necessary to return them to some semblance of a normal life. Permanent injuries to the spinal cord, as well as traumatic brain injury, can leave an individual a mere shadow of their former self; their families crushed by the lose of a vibrant soul and haunted by ever-mounting medical bills and rehabilitation costs.
The point here is to remind that some truck drivers put time and money ahead of safety. The practice of disabling a truck’s front brakes to incrementally improve fuel mileage is one such example. While there are likely many more safety violations that occur daily, a recent report caught our attention, showing how far a driver can go to save a buck.
According to a news article, a trucker on the East Coast modified the license plate holder on his tractor as part of an effort to avoid paying crossing tolls on various bridges in the area, until one Saturday morning. Based on reports, 36-year-old Nelson Vaquiz was caught by a sharp-eyed Port Authority cop when he apparently drove through the E-Z Pass lane early on a Saturday morning with a load of iron pipes. According to reports, the trucker did not have an electronic toll collection device on the truck, thereby avoiding a $65 toll.
Based on police reports, Vaquiz allegedly altered the front license plate so that he could pull a cable and hide the numbers when passing through toll areas. By doing so, the cameras that are set up to photograph the license plates of toll violators would not be able to read the front plate. As for the rear plate, Vaquiz allegedly bent trailer plate so far upwards that the cameras could not record that one either.
Police said that the trucker had set up a cable to retract the front plate when passing by the toll plaza security cameras; once past the area, the driver apparently returned the plate to its normal position. Once stopped by police, the man was charged with theft of service, as well as possession of burglar tools and eluding. The trucker’s Peterbilt rig was also impounded.
The driver had other previous violations, according to news reports, that included speeding, possessing a radar detector, operating an un-inspected vehicle, not observing traffic signals, not maintaining a logbook, as well as failure to secure a load. According to news reports, so-called “fare-beating” at gateless toll plazas is a growing problem for the Port Authority, with some drivers toting up nearly $30,000 in tolls and fines.
Trucker uses license plate trick to avoid NY tolls, Fleetowner.com, October 19, 2011