Parking on highway shoulders and similar areas is one of the most dangerous places to be for a tractor trailer truck. It is for this reason that most states and local jurisdictions prohibit parking in these areas in non-emergency situations. Many commercial drivers assume that a highway shoulder is a safe place to park and that it is unlikely they will be struck by another vehicle. Experience proves, however, that parking on highway shoulders and similar areas greatly contribute to accidents resulting in injuries and death, and often those accidents are preventable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), studies indicate that commercial vehicles were involved in the majority of crashes involving vehicles parked on shoulders and that they occurred primarily between midnight and 6 a.m.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSR) prohibit non-emergency stops due to the severe hazard they present to commercial motor vehicle drivers and other motorists. Simply parking on the side of a roadway due to a driver needing rest, or because a driver is lost, is not considered an emergency situation. In these instances, there are alternatives to stopping on the shoulder. It is recognized that sometimes this practice is unavoidable, such as when having a mechanical breakdown. In those unavoidable instances, it is imperative to follow certain safety precautions such as using hazard and warning flashers; and/or the placement of warning devices. There are specific guidelines on the placement of warning devices for commercial motor vehicles, and different guidelines may apply based on the landscape, road or time of day.
Oftentimes, the hazards associated with parking on the roadside, highway or shoulder is addressed in commercial motor vehicle carrier safety manuals. Many companies prohibit their drivers from parking or stopping on the shoulder or emergency lane of any roadway, due to the fact that this creates a deadly hazard to other motorists. Companies realize the serious risk associated with this practice, and it can even lead to driver termination depending on company policy.
There is increasing awareness of the dangers associated with parking on highway shoulders. More information on this issue is available at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. If you need more information, contact Chris Glover, a lawyer in our firm’s Personal Injury/Products Liability Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Chris.Glover@beasleyallen.com.
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