Theoretically – they should not be, as long as the trucks drivers who care gravel follow the basic safety instructions, as well as (of course) the traffic rules.
The gravel should be covered properly and tarps must be used, in order to prevent the gravel from falling from the truck and hitting the windshields of the vehicles behind the truck.
The reason this article is written, though, is the fact that the situation is quite different on the road, in many cases. Many of the truck drivers use old, faulty tarps and don’t cover the gravel properly. As a result – many windshields get damaged on daily basis and the victims of gravel trucks drivers’ sloppiness don’t always manage to prove the truck drivers’ guilt.
Some truck drivers attach a warning sign to the truck’s tailgate, asking to keep a 200 feet distance (that’s like 13 cars between you and the truck), but it’s not always easy to fulfill such a request. Also, they usually write that they are not responsible for broken windshields.
How serious can the damage get?
Once a piece of gravel hits your windshield – it will probably create a ding. If the ding is fixed soon – that’s it.
But if you can’t respond fast enough – it might as well turn into a crack, which can spread all over the windshield, so you will have to replace the windshield altogether.
The problem is, again, that it won’t be easy to prove that the damage caused to the windshield is not your fault.
How to avoid the damage?
When it comes to the distance between you and the gravel truck – even if you find yourself unable to keep a 200 feet distance – better keep it as big as you can. The best way to save your windshield is to detour the truck, if it’s possible.
Also, in the age of smartphones – it could be a good idea to take a picture of the back of the truck, if you got too close to it anyway and you see that the gravel is not covered properly, but getting so close to such a truck should not be your priority!