Big rig decorations like truck teeth are controversial.
We could be wrong, but the only place we’ve seen this addressed in any trucking publication was on Page 16 of the August/September 2002 issue of Land Line Magazine on their “Hot Topics” page, under the heading “Bug off.”
(Get it? “Bug off” because of “bug screen”?)
[Note: We thank OOIDA for providing us with the back issue of this publication.]
Land Line Magazine referenced Iowa80.com’s website in their article.
The following are references on Iowa80.com’s site to the “teethy” truck bug screens:
It’s Not a Big Deal — Or Is It?
There was a response to the “Bug off” article.
On page 98 of the October 2002 issue of Land Line Magazine, one reader wrote about the bug screen, “It’s a fun thing, never meant to be more than that.”(1)
Perhaps for this person, the bug screen is fun.
Many drivers have decorated their trucks with chrome, custom painted murals and even electric lights over the years.
Perhaps accessorizing a truck with one bug screen is no different from accessorizing with another.
Perhaps because we haven’t been in trucking for our entire careers or have never been owner-operators, we don’t understand the attraction of having “Jaws” or “Fangs” on truck bug screens.
But imagine yourself to be someone outside of trucking, perhaps with no trucking background.
Take a look at the images below and answer the question:
Do you see something friendly or unfriendly?
Truck Teeth Photo Gallery
“Fangs” Bug Screen on a Truck
“Jaws” Bug Screen on a Truck
“Jaws” Bug Screen on tractor pulling a wood chip hauler
“Jaws” Bug Screen on a tractor pulling a flatbed
“Jaws” Bug Screen on a tractor pulling a tanker
Public Perception of Truck Teeth Bug Screens
Imagine seeing a “Jaws” bug screen on the front grill of a truck in your car’s rear view mirror, like that pictured here.
What if this truck is involved in an accident?
What might the investigator do?
Legal Repercussions of Truck Teeth
Vicki has found the following statement on two websites:
- a law group’s site(2) and
- an association’s site(3):
“Photograph any large teeth or fangs found attached to the front grill of the tractor (I would have my investigator take possession of the fangs).”
Let’s extrapolate a potential sequence of events based on this statement.
- Using the photograph or the truck teeth as evidence in court, how may a prosecuting attorney attempt to paint the situation if there is an injury to the non-trucking party?
- If you were the truck driver in the accident, how may you be held liable?
- How much could that cost?
Giving the Attorneys Ammo?
Although some professional truck drivers may object to the way we have described this “what if” scenario, it is our intention to help you save money.
You never know when an accident will occur.
In fact, the accident may not even be your fault!
But an attorney looking to make a name for himself — especially a “big truck accident attorney” — may try to push the envelope.
You don’t want to “wave a red flag in front of a bull” (so to speak) by portraying yourself or your vehicle as aggressive, belligerent, combative or hostile.
Even if you don’t intend to portray yourself that way, you could be perceived as portraying yourself that way, see?
Another Sign of Hostility or Aggression
What other corroborating evidence of perceived hostility, if any, is on your truck?
If you will look closely at one of the photos above, you will see a license tag on the front of a truck that reads “MOVE OVER” in reverse print (so as to be read easily in a rearview mirror).
See our image at right.
Who might the judge or the jury better sympathize with:
- the truck driver who had the truck teeth on his/her truck “just for fun” or
- the accident victim’s family?
Does Having Truck Teeth on My Truck Constitute “Aggressive Driving”?
The subject of aggressive driving raises an entirely new question.
How is “aggressive driving” defined?
As of this writing, a list of states with aggressive driving laws has been compiled by the GHSA.
Another resource on this topic is here.
Truck Teeth Conclusion
We’re not saying that having a truck teeth bugscreen on your truck will definitely result in trouble.
But it is better to be safe than sorry.
We speculate that even DOT officers may react negatively.
Who needs to undergo a truck inspection just because of what you displayed on your truck’s front grill?
Money saving tip: Avoid putting accessories on your truck that make you or your truck appear to be aggressive or hostile.
Avoid driving in an aggressive and hostile way that could lead to a truck crash or accident.
Consider the potential increase to your commercial truck insurance rates if the presence of an aggressive-looking bug screen on your truck prompts a payout or settlement.
Consider the cost in time and money of having to undergo a truck inspection because a certain bug screen was on your truck.
If your trucking company has a policy on bug screen “topics,” follow it.
If you need to have a bug screen on the front of your truck, consider one that portrays you as the professional you are.
1. www.landlinemag.com/archives/2002/oct02/oct2002.pdf (no longer online)
2. www.davislawgroupnc.com/Truck-Accidents/Investigating-Commercial-Truck-Crashes.pdf (no longer online but was on page 9 of 58)
(no longer online but was on page 15 of 24)