Disabled commercial vehicles are hazardous to motorists.
Rightfully, much blame for traffic accidents is placed on trailing/approaching vehicle drivers. However, commercials vehicles disabled in lanes of traffic often contribute to serious and fatal accidents through little to no fault of approaching drivers. Surprisingly, many of these accidents occur in broad daylight on straight roadways. (More obvious contributing factors include nightime and foggy conditions, and curves in the road.)
The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has created rules and regulations designed to reduce the danger. For commercial vehicles (buses and trucks that have a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) greater than 10,000 pounds. U.S. DOT Rule 571.125 S3) stopped upon the traveled portion of the highway for any cause other than a necessary traffic stop, Rule 392.22 requires the following:
- The driver shall immediately activate the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers and contiune the flashing until the driver places the warning devices required by other parts of 392.22. (Hazard warning signals are [L]amps that flash simultaneously to the front and rear, on both the right and left sides of a commercial motor vehicle, to indicate to an approaching driver the presence of a vehicular hazard.” Rule 393.5. The hazard warning signals “shall operate independently of the ignition or equivalent switch….” Rule 393.19.)
- The driver shall, as soon as possible, but in any event within 10 minutes, place the following warning devices beside and behind the vehicle in the manner outlined in Rule 392.22(b)(1)(i-iii), (b((2), (b)(2)(iv), and (b)(2)(v): Three bidirectional emergency reflective triangles or at least 6 fusees or 3 liquid-burning flares. See Rule 393.95. (In Section 571.125 S2, the U.S. Department of Transportation advises that the purpose of these standardized warning devices “is to reduce deaths and injuries due to rear end collisions between moving traffic and disabled vehicles.)
With only slight variation pertaining to the number of fusees that must be placed, these rules apply the same during night and daylight hours.
The importance of having and using the warning devices is made by the instruction contained in Rule 392.8 that that no commercial motor vehicle shall be driven unless the driver is satisfied that the equipment is in place and ready for use.
The purpose of this blog is to make the point that disabled vehicles can be hazardous and cause serious accidents through little to no fault of the approaching driver, a concept that seems to be counter-intuitive. Accordingly, as many of these accidents result in serious personal injuries and death, it should not be automatically assumed that the following driver is at fault. It is important for the facts of each accident to be investigated fully.
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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.