Virginia Personal Injury Lawyers
Accidents Caused by Broken Down Tractor Trailers
Tractor trailer drivers who have a commercial drivers license are taught that stopping a large commercial truck on a roadway or on the shoulder of a road creates an extremely dangerous situation.
Truck drivers who must stop on a roadway must follow a number of rules to maximize safety and ensure they minimize the possibility of causing an accident. Some of the most important safety rules include:
- Making their presence known. If a trucker must pull to the side of a road, the trucker must turn on their four-way emergency flashers. Also, it is critically important that truck drivers take immediate steps to place warnings devices, such as flares, cones, or bright signs that alert oncoming traffic that the truck is pulled over. The warning devices and signs need to be placed far enough away from the stopped truck that drivers have an opportunity to both see the warnings and react by slowing their speed, stopping, or taking other measures appropriate for the situation. Federal law requires drivers to place adequate warning signs and devices a very short time following a breakdown.
- Proper placement of warning signs. It is not enough for truck drivers and trucking companies just to put warning signs out, they must also put the signs a proper distance from the truck and in a proper alignment to make sure an adequate warning is created. As far as distance is concerned, tractor trailer drivers need to place the warning signs 10 feet behind the truck, 100 feet behind the truck, and 200 feet away. As stated below, additional signs are necessary based on the road configuration. In addition, the signs must be set up so that they direct traffic away from the disabled truck, not toward the truck.
- Stopping in a safe place. Truck drivers should avoid stopping in any area that prevents other drivers from seeing the stropped truck from 500 feet away. That means that the tractor trailer should be stopped far enough from a hill or curve that oncoming drivers can clearly see the truck. In the event the terrain does not provide 500 feet of clearance, the truck driver must move the warning signs and devices far enough down the road that a fair warning is provided to other drivers 500 feet before the accident.
- Using the horn when necessary. At times, a driver may find that it is necessary to use the truck’s horn on occasion.
- Making the truck as visible as possible. It may be the case that the tractor trailer needs to stop at night, in bad weather conditions, or in other circumstances that limits visibility of the truck. When that happens, drivers should take steps necessary to make their truck as visible as possible, such as by turning on the lights, using flares, and using other available methods.
Following these basic safety rules will best ensure that commercial trucks that are forced to stop minimizes the chance of an accident caused by broken down tractor trailers.
Although these rules are basic, they are not always followed. And when they aren’t followed, serious injuries and death can occur. If you or a loved one were injured due to a trucking company’s failure to follow these rules, you may have the right to receive compensation for your injuries.
For a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced Virginia truck accident lawyer, please contact Robert E. Byrne, Jr. at (434) 817-3100 or by email at [email protected]. You will not owe a fee unless you get a recovery.