Commercial trucks must follow parking rules in the federal motor safety carrier act regulations, company manuals, industry practices and commercial driving manuals. Insurance companies typically deny claims by motorists that struck an illegally parked truck on the grounds that the driver failed to see and avoid the truck.
Illegally parked trucks cause catastrophic accidents. Ordinarily a person that has illegally parked a car that is struck by another car will not be liable for the accident. Illegally parked trucks are different. Trucks are subject to additional parking restrictions and regulations. Liability for all illegally parked vehicles occur if the parking statute that was violated was meant to prevent accidents as opposed to maintaining the free flow of traffic. For example, cars that double park on a busy city street are violating a parking statute that is meant to maintain the flow of traffic. On the other hand, a truck that parks on a narrow roadway just past a sharp bend creates a hazard. That parking restriction protects approaching drivers. Simply put, the no parking signs in that location are for the protection of drivers that may not have time to react to a stopped truck.
Truck Parking Rules
When a commercial truck stops on a roadway the analysis does not end with a determination as to whether it was legal for the truck to park under local laws. Depending on the size of the commercial truck, the truck driver may have an obligation to place three warning orange triangles behind the truck and to activate their flashers. In addition, if the weather conditions are extremely hazardous certain commercial trucks are prohibited from parking on shoulders of highways.
Trucks that park along roadways are required to use safety triangles and activate hazard lights. Most of us have noticed the red and white striped tape that lines the rear and sides of trailers. Truck drivers are trained to maintain and clean this striping and to understand the limitations of the striping. If the reflective striping is not cleaned it becomes less reflective. This is particularly true for trucks that drive through construction sites or across salt covered roads. Truck drivers should know that reflective tape reflects light to those that are perpendicular to the surface of the tape. Headlights directly behind a parked truck, hit the reflective tape and the light will reflect to alert the driver. If that same truck is parked at a 45-degree angle, approaching headlights will still strike the reflective tape but the light will reflect away from the approaching driver. Truck drivers are required to conduct pre-trip inspections and forbidden to operate a commercial motor vehicle that does not have operational and required emergency equipment.
In addition to reflective tape and emergency triangles, ID and clearance lights play a crucial role in nighttime safety. All trucks have 3 ID lights in the front and rear of the vehicle, these lights are next to each other on the top of the front of the cab and on the top and bottom of the rear of the trailer to signify that it is a commercial vehicle. More importantly, clearance lights are used all over the vehicle to mark the perimeter. If these lights are not working or not activated at night, the truck becomes a hazard.
For example, a large truck illegally parked on an unlit roadway at night near an intersection confronted a driver making a right turn. The driver upon completing the turn had no time to react, and his car slid under the rear of the truck. The reflective tape on the truck failed to alert the driver because it only provided a warning once the driver fully completed the right turn. The truck was stopped about 50 feet from the intersection. The driver was required to place orange warning triangles behind the truck. The last of the three triangles had to be placed 100 feet from the rear of the truck. The truck driver parked the truck in a location that made it impossible to comply with a safety rule designed to warn approaching traffic. These truck accidents are dangerous because the driver and passengers are exposed to severe head injuries due to a car’s bumper riding under the rear of the truck.
Federal law requires commercial trucks to have conspicuous reflective material on certain portions of the truck and trailer to make sure that approaching vehicles headlights will illuminate the truck whether approached from the rear or sides.
PARKING ON A HIGHWAY IS DANGEROUS
Trucks need to be visible
Accidents involving stopped trucks that have inadequate lights or reflective striping required by law are common. Many fatal accidents have occurred when a tractor-trailer attempts to cross a road with a trailer that is missing the required reflective material that should run the length of the trailer. Imagine a flat-bed trailer without lights on the side or reflective stripping crossing a highway at night. Approaching drivers would not see the trailer until it was too late.
Truck Accident Law
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