Ask Our Lawyer July 2016

 

RETREADS – ALLIGATOR ALLEY – OBSERVATIONS OF A MOTORCYCLIST

Q.  Over the years we have received many questions from ABATE members inquiring as to the safety of “retread” truck tires. Some of us have had to dodge retread tire materials and have narrowly avoided crashes.  Interestingly in the age of almost perfect communication, retreads seemingly have missed scrutiny.  Is it because the problem is only a motorcyclist problem?  What follows is our first stab at answering this question.

A.  Let’s get to the point. Are there safety issues with retread tires?  We have studied the problem and there are some  questions that just don’t add up.  So let’s start  our inquiry with information as to exactly what is a retread or capped tire.

The general definition is that a retread, also known as “recap,” or a “remold” is a remanufacturing process for tires that replaces the tread on worn tires.  Essentially retreading is a process that saves money by shaving down old tires to the casing and gluing on a new tread.  (Years ago I worked at General Tire in Indianapolis where we glued retreads to used casings.) Sound safe?   Some of us have witnessed a delaminating retread.  My experience was spectacular. The semi just ahead of me had a trailer tire delaminate at about 60 mph.   The tire delaminated violently and showered tire debris over me and my FLH.  I still have a crack in my windshield caused by tire shrapnel.  To avoid catastrophe  I slalomed around the larger chunks of tire material some of which was large enough to derail a motorcyclist.   I now collect photos of retread debris in an effort to shed light on a hazard to motorcyclists.

Now for the other side’s story – the retreaders.  According to Tire Retread & Repair Information Bureau aka TRIB, retread tires are a good deal and are safely used by trucking fleets and others all over the country.  But regulations disallow retreads in certain applications.  So why is it that retreads cannot be legally used on the steering axle of a bus if they are safe?  Some companies have a private policy of no retreads on a steering axle.  Why?  No one provides a clear answer to that one, but I have a pretty good guess.

IF retreads are truly safe then what about all the retread debris you see on the side of the highways aka – roadside alligators?  Most of us know those to be leftovers of a delaminated retread tire.  But the retread groups claim that the rubber pieces you see on the road come from both new “virgin” and retreaded tires in equal proportions to their usage on roads (They have not shared the data).   That claim does not fit with my past experience as a commercial truck driver.   Those lobbying groups claim to have additional studies indicating that the main cause of the roadside debris is from tires being improperly maintained, under/over inflated, road hazards, potholes, and driver operational error.   My experience begs to differ especially when I see long strips of retread materials along the roadway that have become unglued.

If retreads are a safety hazard, why do many trucking companies use retreads?  Is it because they are better and safer?  The real answer is: retreads are cheaper.  You can get a retread for 30-50 percent less than a new tire.  Retread supporters claim that retreading truck tires saves the trucking industry over $3 billion each year, but at what expense?

Let us know about your experiences.

 

GRASS CLIPPINGS – JUST LIKE GREASE TO MOTORCYCLE TIRES?

Q.  Is it illegal for people to blow their grass clippings onto the roads in Indiana? Thank you, Brian Russell – ABATE MEMBER.

A.  While no state law directly prohibits blowing grass clippings onto public roadways, there maybe city and county ordinances barring the practise. Keep in mind that grass clippings blown onto roads are not only an eyesore but also a hazard to motorcyclists. Engineers have calculated the coefficient of friction of fresh grass clippings – almost as slick as grease. So while you may not be in violation of a law, you may have created a condition that could cause you to be liable for injuries caused  by your clippings.  Here is why.

Lawsuits have been filed against property owners claiming that covering the roadway with grass clippings creates a dangerous situation.   Especially dangerous are wet grass clippings.  Some say they are akin to riding over a sheet of ice.  And a swirling vortex of grass in the eyes creates its own problem, especially if you are a motorcyclist.  A lawsuit filed in Plainfield, IL by a woman passenger on a motorcycle claims the motorcyclist lost control after they hit a patch of grass clippings blown into the street by a homeowner.  The passenger sued the homeowner for negligence.  See the attached case. http://patch.com/illinois/joliet/plainfield-woman-injured-motorcycle-wreck-claims-discarded-grass-clippings-caused-crash-lawsuit

So even if no city or county ordinance bars the practise of blowing grass clippings onto the road, the lawyers will be waiting for you if you do and someone is injured.   I can almost guarantee that you will get sued if a motorcyclist is injured because of your grass clippings.

 

UNINTENTIONAL BRIBE FROM A MOTORCYCLIST?

Q.  While riding my motorcycle, I got a ticket in northern Michigan. The cop asked for a cash payment of $50.00 on the spot. When I informed the officer that I didn’t have $50.00 cash, the cop asked if I had any money at all. I only had a couple of bucks with me, so the cop took my license and told me I would get the license back after the ticket was paid. I think that sounds bogus. Have you heard of this? ABATE MEMBER.

A.  Surprisingly, that’s the law. Most states are members of an interstate compact for enforcement of traffic tickets. That is fancy lawyer talk for let’s collect more money for the state. If you don’t appear in court and pay the fine, your home state will be notified and will suspend your license until you deal with the out-of-state ticket. The Driver License Compact (DLC) also provides that the home state treat the offense as if it had been committed in your state, applying your state laws to the out-of-state offense. The action taken includes points assessed on a minor offense such as speeding and suspension of license or a major violation such as DWI/DUI. Not included are non-moving violations like parking tickets, tinted windows, loud exhaust, etc. All states are members except for Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. Nevada repealed the authorizing legislation, though it still generally conforms to the agreement through regulations.

Even though Michigan is not a member of the interstate compact, the officer is authorized to receive from the alleged offender a cash bond to secure the appearance in court to answer for the ticket. If the offender cannot post the bond (in cash, on the roadside) the officer is empowered to retain the offender’s license to guarantee appearance. The cash bond cannot exceed $100.00. The officer must then issue a receipt for this payment and the cash bond will be returned after the ticket is satisfied.  Payment of the bond is not an admission of the offense, and you are free to return to the county of the infraction to contest the ticket at the time of the scheduled hearing.  Some officers will even accompany you to the nearest U.S. Postal Box and mail the bond and in some cases the fine.

I got a speeding ticket in Southern Illinois once and had the cash for the fine, which I gave to the officer per his request.  I was then directed to follow the officer to the nearest mailbox while he allegedly put my cash into an envelope and mailed the fine.  But the cynical me always wondered, did he really put my cash in the envelope? I will never know.  Interestingly, no points were ever put on my record – hmmm.

 

ROADHAZARD.ORG – WINTER REPAIR, ROADS AND MORE ROADS

 

With the winter behind us we are starting to see our roadways under repair. Thankfully the mild winter was  nice to us this year, but there are still areas that need to be reported to our local Street Departments and action centers.  Please take the time to report these hazards to RoadHazard.org and we will do all the legwork. We have been receiving feedback that the distressed areas we report are generally fixed within a two week time period.  Do yourself and your fellow riders a favor and report any roadway, intersection, transition, bridge etc. you deem unsafe or hazardous to RoadHazard.org and let us help us help you.

 

Ride Safe & Free,

 

Rod Taylor

ABATE Legal Services

abatelegal.com

All questions from ABATE members are answered confidentially unless otherwise authorized and only after the matter is concluded, except when authorization for publication anonymously or otherwise is given for pending matters. Remember, injured ABATE members pay only 28 ½% of total recovery and expenses as approved by client, consistent with and conforming to applicable state law. Elsewhere, you may pay 33 ⅓%, 40% or even 50% of your recovery. ABATE members are not charged for recovery of damage to your motorcycle, and have access to a 24-hour toll-free telephone number. Call us at 1-(800)-25-RIDER. Questions? Submit them to: RodTaylor@abatelegal.com  © 2016.

 

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