Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Conspicuity

Back when I was a kid, my family’s brand new 1964 Rambler sedan was not equipped with four-way emergency flashers.  Now, these flashers are standard safety equipment on all vehicles manufactured in America.

Rambler 1964B As the science of conspicuity has advanced, government rules and regulations regarding lighting of motor vehicles have improved, making vehicles safer.  Nevada Revised Statutes dedicate many pages to “Lamps and Other Equipment for Lighting”.  See N.R.S. 484.545 – 484.591.  Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations §393 Subpart B describes all the “Lamps, Reflective Devices and Electrical Wiring” that must be present on a Commercial Vehicle.  Keeping the mandated lights in working order is a must.  A proper Pre-Trip Inspection requires that lighting must be checked every day that the vehicle heads out on the road.  FMCSR  §392.7.

The benefits of ongoing improvements in conspicuity regulations and the enforcement of current regulations are demonstrated by the case of Alex Novack & Sons v. Hoppin, 77 Nev. 33, 359 P.2d 390 (1961).  In Novack, a driver that hauled scrap metal had driven from Ontario, California to Nevada.  He was headed to Nellis Air Force Base, just north of Las Vegas, to pick up a load.  It was still dark.  The driver stopped to take a short nap.  However, his trailer protruded five feet onto the blacktop.  The driver claimed that the lights were dim and so he turned them off and put out reflectors.  However, a post accident inspection showed the wiring on the trailer was burned in places and bare of insulation, such that the lights on the rear trailer could not function.  The lights on the tractor were out of service as well.  Plus the independent witnesses said they didn’t even see any reflectors.

Hoppin was a driving gas hauler.  He approached the stopped truck from the rear.  Like other drivers who preceded him, Hoppin noticed the stopped truck and swerved to the left at the last minute to avoid it.  He was unable to maintain control of his truck, which rolled and burst into flames.  As you can imagine, the jury agreed with the Plaintiffs.   Hoppin’s Estate, his heirs and gas truck’s owner obtained a verdict against Novack for wrongful death and negligence respectively.

Perhaps, all the regulations in the world would not have convinced this owner to get his truck repaired.  Nevertheless, this is a clear example of why safe owners and operators are doing their best to not only see, but to be seen on the roadway.

Mills & Associates Trucking Lawyers 702-240-6060

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