When most people think of truck accidents, they think about high-speed, in-transit collisions. But accidents involving parked trucks happen more often than one might think—and they can be just as dangerous. In 2018, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported 239 fatalities in crashes involving parked trucks not in transport.
Accidents involving parked trucks are particularly dangerous for passenger vehicles. Aside from the obvious danger that large, heavy trucks pose as an obstacle cars can partially slide under a parked truck in an “underride” accident, often causing severe injuries or death. Since truck accident data seldom includes specific categories for types of accidents, the number of underride accidents and crashes involving parked trucks are difficult to determine and may be grossly undercounted.
While it is illegal under most circumstances to park along the shoulder of the highway, some truck drivers do so anyway. Truckers may pull over and park on the shoulder of the highway because they have reached the maximum allowable time behind the wheel under the federal Hours of Service requirements, and they are miles away from an available rest stop. Some may feel drowsy and park on the side of the highway to rest instead of finding a suitable rest area to park. Others may simply pull off the highway to stop and check their phones.
To be clear, the intentions here are right; truckers should pull over and get off the road if they are not in compliance with truck safety laws, if they feel tired, or to avoid distraction from a mobile device. However, the law is clear on this—trucks, cars, or other vehicles are only supposed to stop on the shoulder in an emergency. If a trucker or any other driver needs to rest, they need to find a rest area or an appropriate place to park (more on this below).
Truck drivers that do not pull far enough off the highway put other vehicles in danger. That danger only increases if the truck driver fails to turn on hazard lights or lay down triangles or flares to warn approaching drivers that a truck is parked on the side of the road.
Federal law requires the following warnings for trucks stopped in the side of the highway:
- A warning signal must be placed ten feet from the vehicle in the direction of oncoming traffic.
- A warning signal must be placed 100 feet from the vehicle in the center of the shoulder (or lane).
- A warning signal must be placed 100 to 500 feet from the vehicle in the direction of approaching traffic if the truck is stopped within 500 feet of a hill, curve in the road, or other obstruction.
ABC7 recently rode along with a California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer for a story on trucks parked illegally along the side of California roads. According to the CHP trucks parked illegally on the side of the road “happens all the time.”
How can we reduce accidents involving parked trucks? One answer might be to increase available parking along our highways by building new and safe rest areas, something the trucking industry has been calling for in recent years. More truck parking should lead to less trucks parked along the side of our nation’s highways, thus reducing the risk of parked truck accidents.
Truck Parking Measures Left Out of $1 Trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
Accidents involving parked trucks or trucks stopped along the highway have proven to be enough of a problem that legislators called for it to be addressed in the Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation (INVEST) in America Act. Unfortunately, these measures were scrapped in the Senate bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The Senate passed this $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill August 10 without the truck parking measure, sending the bill back to the House for approval.
The $1 trillion infrastructure bill covered a lot of ground in its 2,700 pages, including provisions for underride protection and to assess each state’s available commercial vehicle parking. If the House does not reintroduce truck parking measures into the bill, the assessments may lead to future improvements for truck parking down the line, but will not do enough to immediately address the parking issue. If we are to avoid accidents involving parked trucks, legislators should consider acting on the proposed truck parking measure.
Injured in a Parked Truck Accident?
If you or someone in your family has been injured in a parked truck accident, Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman’s team is prepared to mount a strong legal case on your behalf. Our national trial team based in Los Angeles has fought to protect victims of all types of truck accidents over the years:
- $20 million wrongful death verdict achieved against Ride the Ducks International
- $15 million recovered for a pedestrian catastrophically injured in a semi-truck accident
- $8.5 million wrongful death verdict against Tyson Foods over a fatal truck accident
Attorney Diane Marger Moore—who is triple board-certified—is a core member of our truck accident litigation team. She is the second woman in the nation and the first in six states to become Board Certified in Truck Accident Law. She is also board certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the areas of Civil Trial and Civil Practice. Diane is also a Regent of the Board of Regents for the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys, which vets and recognizes attorneys who have documentable knowledge, real experience and proven results in handling truck crash cases. Diane has also conducted more than 200 trials and has more than 40 years of experience.
Call (855) 948-5098 for a free consultation with a member of our national trial team.