Commercial trucks, or big rigs, get into collisions with passenger vehicles in the U.S. every day. Part of what causes 18-wheeler accidents is truck drivers breaking federal and state roadway rules. In 2016, 4,213 big rigs were involved in fatal accidents throughout the country. Parking on the shoulder of a highway is an example of something that may violate federal law – and cause car accidents – depending on the circumstances.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulation § 392.22
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) controls commercial vehicle safety and operation through federal regulations that all trucking companies and their employees must obey. One regulation, 49 CFR 392.22, specifically addresses the issue of big rigs parking on the shoulders of highways. It permits the parking of a commercial motor vehicle on the side of the highway, but with the following rules and stipulations for doing so:
- 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.
Big rigs may 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 accident.
Stopping on the Shoulder in a Non-Emergency
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 big rig parked on the shoulder of a highway in Texas, find out if the driver was in violation of federal rules with help from a lawyer. 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. These mistakes could mean the truck driver – or trucking company – is liable for your damages. Speak to an attorney for more information.