Bigger & Harman, APC - October 2019




DRIVER Attorneys Defending Your Right to the Road



The Future of Trucking

In the spirit of fall and reflection, I wanted to spend some time ruminating on the future of trucking. Where is the industry heading? Some predict utopian visions of fast, efficient self-driving vehicles, while others rightfully ask what will happen to the drivers. But what both sides assume is that automated semitrucks are taking over and doing it soon. Frankly, I’m not convinced. Now I have to admit, the same week I sat down to draft this article, the news came out that UPS has already been using self-driving trucks to make cargo deliveries in Arizona. The irony is not lost on me. But having read the reports, I was pleased to see I didn’t have to change any of my original contentions. If anything, this UPS pilot program strengthens my belief that the world isn’t ready for artificial drivers to take the wheel. The thing is, people don’t trust machines. Anyone who’s ever tried to get “Siri” or “Alexa” to understand their commands can testify we’re a long way from machines that can think and respond like a human. While a glorified speaker accidentally adding “cannons” instead of “carrots” to your shopping list can make for a laugh, no one wants to see what an automated 18-wheeler “misunderstanding” looks like. UPS keeping their real-world test runs quiet for so long speaks volumes. Even though they swear by the safety of the technology, they knew the public wouldn’t trust these vehicles taking the road for the first time. Beyond the trust factor, self-driving vehicles create legal questions unlike any we’ve seen before. If one is caught in a crash, who’s at fault? Was it the company that wrote the software? The manufacturer that installed the hardware? A technician who missed a vital step during maintenance? One thing is certain: If a single big accident caused by an AI-controlled truck is traced to a manufacturing issue, the resulting lawsuits could cripple the industry.

Human agency is at the root of the trust and legal problem. No collection of if/ then statements entered into a computer will ever fully encompass the range of possible scenarios on the open road. Experienced truckers can improvise solutions and react at a moment’s notice to any changes in driving conditions. Not only did the UPS trucks still have humans in the driver’s seat “just in case,” but they also were only allowed to operate in a very particular location. Anyone who’s made the run between Tucson and Phoenix can testify to how bland it can be. For 115 miles you are treated to nothing but a monotonous, straight highway — if you wanted a place to drive with as few variables as possible, this is it. I’d like to see these UPS trucks try to make it through the Grapevine. Finally, the one thing often overlooked in this conversation is the high bar truckers set. Because rigorous state and federal regulations ensure only the best of the best can hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), the vast majority of accidents involving human drivers are caused by other vehicles on the road. So, rather than talk about ways to replace these hardworking men and women, I’d like Silicon Valley to invent tools to help drivers do their jobs even better. For example, using a program to regulate driving time could allow lawmakers to loosen regulations around when truckers need to take a break. This flexibility would be a huge boon to those on the road; drivers could leave earlier to avoid rush hour traffic or drive an extra half hour to make it to a better rest stop. Rather than force a change to driverless cars that society does not really want, let’s use the technology we have to fix the challenges of today and make tomorrow better.

Stay human,

–Mark Bigger

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about the Hollow Earth Theory and meeting the mole people than his larger interest in learning more about such a remote part of the world. However, Adams’ reputation as a naturalist didn’t protect him from scrutiny. Even in the early 1800s, the Hollow Earth Theory was like the Flat Earth Theory today; there were a couple avid supporters, but most people knew it was ridiculous. Having a sitting U.S. president greenlight the expedition was shocking. However, you didn’t learn about Symmes’ expedition in your history class for a reason. Adams wasn’t a popular president, and not just because he might have wanted to meet the mole people. He only served one term. By the time the expedition started to get off the ground, Andrew Jackson had been elected, and he quickly killed the project. In 1936, Congress would approve funding for an expedition to the South Pole, though this expedition focused on exploring the surface of the Earth, not what is underneath it.

Today, some of the most fantastic discoveries are being made in the far reaches of space, but there was a time when people were more interested in what was going on beneath their feet. In the early 1820s, a United States army officer named John Cleves Symmes Jr. traveled the country teaching audiences about the Hollow Earth Theory. Symmes and some others at the time believed the Earth was made up of several solid spheres, one inside of another. They also believed each of these subterranean worlds was habitable and full of life. This is where the myth of the mole people originated. Symmes wanted to lead an

expedition to the North Pole, where he believed he would find an entrance to the center of the Earth. He went to Congress and lobbied for money to fund his expedition. Congress shot him down, but Symmes found an ally in an unlikely place: President John Quincy Adams. John Quincy Adams was the sixth president of the United States and son of the second president and founding father, John Adams. He traveled the world with his father, graduated from Harvard with honors, helped create the national observatory, and secured funding for the Smithsonian Institution. It’s possible Adams’ interest in Symmes’ trip to the North Pole was less


The Real Danger of Hazmat Trucking

Getting a coveted hazmat endorsement is one of the last ways to make trucking profitable. For those who get the certification, the higher demand and extra pay are all big pluses for the job, assuming you don’t mind towing metric tons of caustic or explosive material behind you at all times. However, this job carries with it a hidden risk to your wallet and livelihood. THE WRONG ROUTE TICKET When most people think of wrong route violations, they think of cars taking a wrong turn down a one-way street. But for hazardous cargo transporters, California Vehicle Code applies this law more broadly. Because your payload can potentially cause mass casualties, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) releases approved routes and a list of safe stopping places. Hazmat truckers are required to stick to these approved routes or face heavy fines. A COMMON MISTAKE The CHP frequently updates their maps and alters safe stopping locations, often to the detriment of hazmat truckers. Many of

these drivers have been working the same route for years and have their favorite stopping places along the way. But, once these veteran drivers feel like they know the run like the back of their hand, they may not keep up to date with CHP alterations. Suddenly, one day they’re confronted with a $4,175 misdemeanor for stopping at the same coffee place they’ve been using for years because, unbeknownst to them, their route changed. PROTECT YOURSELF Obviously, the best way to prevent route violations is to keep your maps up to date at all times. But, if you do receive this serious ticket, it’s important to fight the charges. Even if you feel the evidence is stacked against you, many traffic judges see this charge as a “wobbler” offense, meaning they can be convinced to reduce the misdemeanor to an infraction thus saving your money and driving record. If you’re facing such a serious offense, give us a call. We have years of experience fighting in California’s traffic courts and know the routes to a favorable outcome.

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THE RIGHT THING TO DO The Ethics of Paying Your Traffic Ticket

INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MISSION Thanks to your referrals, we were able to give $560 to fight human trafficking. To learn more about International Justice Mission, please go to To protect the poor from violence by rescuing victims, bringing the criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength, and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts. Our long-term vision is to rescue millions, protect half a billion, and make justice for the poor unstoppable. MISSION:

If our years of experience in traffic law have taught us anything, it’s drivers feel guilty about fighting speeding tickets. In talking to new clients, they often feel like they are doing something wrong by fighting the charge. Some folks even go so far as to claim it’s unethical to dispute a speeding ticket. This is dangerous thinking, and here’s why. DON’T BE SHAMED OUT OF YOUR RIGHTS Last we checked, we still live in the United States of America, a nation built on the idea that people are innocent until proven guilty. In fact, those who hire a traffic attorney and hold the government to their burden of proof get their ticket reduced or dismissed 95% of the time. Yet, the vast majority of those who receive traffic tickets choose to pay up. WHO WINS? Do you owe some sort of debt to society for your speeding ticket? Will paying the fine go toward making the roads safer for all of us? The answer to both questions is “no.” Paying the fine means taking a conviction which, in turn, means your insurance company will raise their rates on you. Paying the ticket isn’t some sort of moral absolution. If you feel guilty because you were driving unsafe, then the best thing you can do is correct the driving behavior. But oftentimes a ticket has little to do with safety and, even if you do want to correct the driving behavior, oftentimes the collateral insurance consequences are too punitive for the offense you committed. THE COST OF FIGHTING The last part of this equation is hiring a traffic lawyer. Many believe it’s simply easier to pay the ticket and move on, but that is a misnomer. When you add the original fine and higher insurance premiums to the risk of losing your license, the legal fees for an experienced lawyer are dwarfed by comparison. Why should you give up your rights when so much is on the line? Why put your livelihood on the line by establishing a record and risking your license?





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The Future of Trucking ................. PAGE 1

Weird History: The President and the Hollow Earth .................... PAGE 2

The Real Danger of Hazmat Trucking ............................ PAGE 2

Is Paying Your Traffic Ticket Ethical? ................................ PAGE 3

Amazing Cat Tales ......................... PAGE 4

Have a ticket in California? Give us a call, and we’ll help you out! Regardless of the location, we can point you in the right direction free of charge!

Most owners will tell you their cats act like ancient deities. Majestic, scrupulous, and utterly unpredictable, these fascinating creatures have long captured our imaginations. Even before cat videos took the internet by storm, humans have been idolizing felines, placing them alongside some of their most important mythological figures. BASTET — EGYPT Of course, a list of mythical cats has to start with Egypt. While many people know the pharaohs and their followers thought cats were sacred, you may be surprised by how deep the connection goes. The earliest depiction of Bastet, the feline deity of protection, is a lion- headed woman in battle. But, over the course of 2,000 years, Bastet evolved to resemble the domesticated, pointy-eared cats we know and love today. 招き猫 (MANEKI-NEKO) — JAPAN Legend has it that in the 17th century, a monk living in a small temple in Edo (now Tokyo) was struggling to survive, but he still split his meals with his cat, Tama. One day, Lord Nakaota li got caught in a rainstorm while hunting and took shelter under a tree near the temple. Nakaota spotted Tama near the temple, and the cat raised its leg, beckoning the TAILS FROM THE PAST MYTHICAL CATS OF THE WORLD

noble to come toward him. Curious, Nakaota complied, stepping out from beneath the tree just before a bolt of lightning struck it down. The lord’s life was saved, and to this day, the Maneki-Neko (the beckoning cat) is a symbol of wealth and good fortune. FREYA’S SKOGKATTS — NORWAY In Norse folklore, the goddess Freya had a unique means of travel: a chariot pulled by two cats. These were skogkatts, or Norwegian Forest cats, that were only a little larger than your average house cat. Still, these small felines towed Freya around battlefields as she gathered warriors to send to Valhalla. On top of being the goddess of war, love affairs, and magic, Freya may well have been Midgard’s first cat lady.

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