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Setting the scene for the video above, Carroll Fulmer Safety Director Mark Darling notes it was very early in the morning on a two-lane highway in Tallulah, La. — specifically, U.S. Highway 65 one mile north of Bailey Rd., at about 4:45 a.m., Darling says. Fulmer’s driver “had been driving for a little bit” after starting the day early.
“When you see somebody coming at you” out of the distance, Darling notes, “it takes a moment to realize what you’re seeing,” in this case a pair of headlights emerging and, it becomes increasingly clear, attached to a four-wheeler who is in your very lane.
To say the least, Darling continues, the Fulmer driver “was shocked to see it coming, but made the defensive maneuvers to move to the right.”
Josh Fulmer, risk manager for the 325-company-truck/175-owner-operator dry van fleet, notes the driver’s evasive action reduced damage to the tractor, which took a glancing blow along the driver-side fuel tank. “I think he hit our first drive tire” on the driver side, too, Fulmer says. “If he didn’t swerve, it would have been a head-on collision,” much worse for both the driver, the truck and the two people in the four-wheeler, most likely.
The trucker was OK, with only a minor injury to one of his hands incurred when jerking the steering back to the left after the collision. The two in the car “were taken to the hospital,” Fulmer says. “I don’t believe we ever had any communication with them.”
That early in the morning, Darling emphasizes, is a time to be vigilant. The most erratic drivers at that time are typically “somebody just not paying attention, or somebody falling asleep. You never really know.” He adds that the company in this case has not been hit with any litigation, given the clarity the captured video provides.
“It’s fairly clear from the video” what occurred, says Fulmer, and just who was at fault — not Fulmer’s driver. “I don’t think we got charged with anything” in this case. “What was written on the police report was just like the video shows.”
Fulmer calls this incident a “great example of how cameras can protect the drivers. … We have about a half-dozen other videos that show how it protects the driver,” in some cases able to be delivered to law enforcement on the scene, even. “The fastest we can do it after an accident is 20-30 minutes — we can get the video in our hands and back to the authorities on-site. There have been a few times we’ve been able to get it to them that fast.”
Often, he adds, “we don’t get a police report the day of, anyway – even the day after” video evidence is helpful in clearing up the he-said/she-saids of most accidents in the initial paper trail associated with any incident. In this case, “we did get the video very fast – three hours after the incident – but we weren’t able to send it to the authorities until everything had been cleaned up.”
Fulmer has dual-camera systems by SmartDrive — 340 in total — installed in their company trucks.