No, boys and girls, we are not going to have 9th grade health class today. What we are going to talk about is protecting yourself, and Mercer, or any other motor carrier, when stopped on the roadway or the shoulder. All commercial motor vehicles are required to carry warning devices for stopped vehicles. The requirement can be found in 49CFR393.95(f). Units must carry either 3 bidirectional emergency reflective triangles, 6 fusees or 3 liquid-burning flares. Most hazmat carriers, including Mercer, require the triangles because of prohibitions in the use of fusees or flares with certain types of hazmat cargo.

When should triangles be placed? That is covered by 49CFR392.22(b)(1) which reads, …..”whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the travelled portion or the shoulder of a highway for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver shall, as soon as possible, but in any event within 10 minutes, place the warning devices required by 393.95………..” Specific placement depending upon specific circumstances is included in the parts immediately following the requirement.

It is important for all drivers to understand that triangles are not just required for accident scenes. If the truck is stopped on the roadway, or the shoulder, due to a flat tire, mechanical breakdown, being lost, nap, or whatever, the triangles must be placed within 10 minutes. It is important that the driver places the triangles immediately, even before he or she raises the hood, gets on the cell phone, or opens a map.

If another vehicle rear-ends the stopped unit, and the triangles are not out, the waters of liability for the accident are muddied considerably. The time period that the unit was stopped, if under ten minutes, is often difficult, if not impossible, to prove. What will be factual is that the triangles were not out in an apparent violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Usually serious or fatal injuries are involved, and the plaintiff demands are enormous. Even a successful legal defense is incredibly expensive.

The way to avoid these unwanted or unintended consequences is to use protection. Have your triangles in an easy to reach location and put them out immediately when required. Be safe.