Positioning the Commercial Motor Vehicle When Stopped


“Car Hits Parked Truck”

If one does a Google search on “car hits parked truck,” the search results in over 35 million results. Everyday, it seems, someone is running into the back of a truck somewhere.

Rear-end collisions are always destructive and messy. Running into a truck is almost like running into a brick wall. Metal twists and bends. There is always the chance of under-ride. There is the chance of fire. People can get seriously hurt. It’s a mess.

But it only gets worse.


If the collision does result in an injury or fatality, it is likely that the crash will result in a lawsuit. Both the truck driver and company will be sued. Pre-trial dispositions will be taken and every safety practice, policy, and procedure will be called into question.

Somebody has to pay for this collision. Somebody will pay . . .

Even if a settlement can be negotiated before the trial, insurance premiums will rise. There is the chance that the insurance coverage was not enough, so assets will have to be sold to make up the difference.

What’s the best alternative? Collision avoidance.

Here are some commercial motor vehicle positioning tips used by safety conscious fleets:


The breakdown lane is for Emergencies only. Answering a phone call from dispatch is not an emergency. Checking directions or a map is not an emergency. Even running out of fuel is not an emergency, and one driver was fined $1000 for this. Yes — non-emergency stops are illegal. Drivers need to do their pretrip planning and pretrip inspections to avoid any and all non-emergency stops on the shoulder of the expressway.

The expressway is not a rest area. Again, unless it’s an emergency situation, there should be no parking and napping on the side of the expressway or ramps, and definitely no sleeping. Drivers need to keep track of their hours and leave a safety margin for themselves to find a place to park. This is difficult, but not impossible.

Areas with guardrails, bridges, and tunnels are extra risky. Guardrails signal some sort of off-road hazard. Guardrails can act as “channels” and direct vehicles into a commercial vehicle that is parked next to the guardrail. The same with bridges or tunnels. There is no “out” for another vehicle to get around the parked vehicle. So, for example, a driver notices he has a flat tire and decides he will wait for road service. If the truck must remain on the expressway, then driver should stop well beyond the guardrail, bridge or tunnel, put on the emergency flashers and set up the warning triangles.

• Don’t stop in an exit ramp, if at all possible.

Street Parking

Don’t park in center turn lanes.

Don’t park in places marked no parking.

Don’t park in church parking lots. (The pavement is usually thin and not designed for a heavy truck.)

Don’t park in malls where truck parking is restricted.

Don’t park near schools. Some jurisdictions have strict anti-idle laws near schools and/or other civic buildings.

Never drop a trailer against the flow of traffic or in an oncoming lane, as vehicles may run under the kingpin.

If legally parked on the street, a couple of 24 inch traffic cones with reflective tape can be placed behind the vehicle.

Other Parking Situations

Don’t park in curves or under overpasses or other areas where the vehicle may be not be easily seen.

Don’t park in an area before bright lights that can hide the silhouette of the truck at night.

Drivers should never walk along the truck with their backs to traffic.

Make sure drivers know how to properly set up warning triangles in an emergency.

Thank you for reading this.


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