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Tractor Trailers and Highway Shoulders

Tractor Trailers and Highway Shoulders

Commercial motor vehicles become involved in collisions with passenger vehicles every day. In some circumstances, the operators of these vehicles break federal and/or state laws applicable to the rule of the road. It’s becoming all too common that tractor trailers parked and/or stopped on a highway shoulder somehow become involved in a motor vehicle crash. In certain instances, the operator of a tractor trailer may be violating federal law, thus becoming responsible for the crash, depending on the circumstances.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) controls commercial vehicle safety and operation through federal regulations all trucking companies and their employees must obey. One regulation, 49 CFR 392.22, specifically addresses the issue of tractor trailers parking on the shoulders of highways. That federal regulation only permits the parking of a commercial motor vehicle on the side of the highway when the following rules are applicable and are followed:

· When stopping on the shoulder of a highway for a reason other than a traffic stop, the truck driver must immediately turn on hazard warning signal flashers.

· The parked truck driver must keep his or her flashers on until the driver places a warning device on the traffic side of the road. The driver must place warning devices as soon as possible, but no later than 10 minutes after stopping on the shoulder.

 · Approved warning devices for big rigs parked on the shoulder include three bi-directional emergency reflective triangles, red flags, fuses, liquid-burning flares and other warning devices in addition to those required.

 · Stopped truckers must place warning devices on the traffic side four paces from the vehicle in the direction of oncoming traffic; at 40 paces from the vehicle in the center of the shoulder in the direction of oncoming traffic;    and at 40 paces in the direction away from oncoming traffic.

· If stopped on a shoulder within 500 feet of a hill, curve, or other obstruction, the big rig driver must place a warning device in the direction of the obstruction, a distance of 100 to 500 feet from the stopped truck.

 · The big rig driver must not use emergency warning devices that produce flames if the commercial motor vehicle is leaking gasoline or any other flammable or combustible liquid or gas, unless the signal is far enough away to prevent a fire or explosion.

Tractor trailers may only stop on the shoulder of a highway as long as the driver carries out the above-mentioned protocols for warning other vehicles of the truck’s presence on the side of the road. The truck driver must keep the warning devices in place during truck repairs, until the commercial vehicle can leave the shoulder. Failure to fulfill the federal stopping regulations could lead to citations, fines and liability for a resultant car crash.

A truck driver might park a big rig illegally if he or she is using the shoulder of the highway as a rest area, rather than an emergency pull-over location. In most cases, the law does not permit a big rig driver to park on the side of the road to sleep. Instead, truck drivers must find appropriate rest stops and designated areas for parking and rest breaks. Parking on the shoulder of a highway to sleep may constitute a violation of federal trucking regulations and could be grounds to hold the truck driver liable for a subsequent car accident.

If you collided with a tractor trailer parked on the shoulder of a highway in Pennsylvania, West Virginia or Ohio, call me and find out if the driver was in violation of federal rules. An investigation of the circumstances could uncover that the driver did not take proper emergency warning device steps or broke the rules by parking on the side of the road in a non-emergency situation. These mistakes could mean the truck driver, or the trucking company, is liable for your damages. Please call us at Bordas & Bordas, PLLC.

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