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Parked Commercial Vehicle Accidents in Kentucky

When the driver of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) becomes tired after driving long hours, they may decide to pull over. There are designated parking spots for CMV drivers, but they are often limited and spread out. In some instances, the driver may choose to pull over on the shoulder or side of the highway. While this may seem convenient, it can create a serious danger for themselves and the other drivers on the road.

The U.S. Department of Transportation named Kentucky as one of the states with the most severe challenges regarding commercial truck parking. A 2017 study indicated that CMV crashes caused by sleepiness and fatigue were more likely to occur in instances where the rest areas were more than 20 miles away. While it’s understandable that drivers become too fatigued to make it to a rest area, it is then imperative for them to follow specific State and Federal regulations for parking on the side of the highway.

Failing to abide by the specific rules for parking a commercial truck can result in facing liability for any accident or resulting injuries caused by the truck driver’s parking decision. If you have recently been involved in a CMV accident that resulted in injuries or wrongful death, you may have grounds for a personal injury claim.

Kentucky Law

Under Kentucky Statute Section 189.450(3), no vehicle is permitted to park, stop, or stand along the shoulders of an interstate highway, toll road, or other fully controlled highway. Additionally, it is illegal for a vehicle with a registered weight over 44,000lbs to stop, park, or stand on the on the shoulder of any state-maintained highway. The only exceptions are in the case of an emergency or if a law enforcement officer directs the driver to do so.

The statute further explains that a violation can result in law enforcement requesting the vehicle be moved, or it may result in the vehicle being towed at the driver’s own expense if it remains parked for 24 hours or more.

Federal Regulations for Commercial Trucks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) established regulations to ensure the safety of commercial truck drivers and other motor vehicle operators while on the road. They work alongside local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies to provide various rules, including Part 392 codifying the operation of CMVs.

One reason that CMV drivers may pull over onto the side of the road is due to fatigue. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) estimated that 30-40% of CMV wrecks and fatalities are caused by driver fatigue. To combat driver fatigue, FMCSA requires that all CMV drivers must take a 30-minute break when they have driven for a period of 8 cumulative hours without at least a 30-minute interruption.

When a commercial truck driver stops or parks on the side of the road or highway, they must follow the Federal rules and regulations. The following is provided under 49 CFR § 392.22:

“Whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the traveled portion of a highway or the shoulder of a highway for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver of the stopped commercial motor vehicle shall immediately activate the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers and continue the flashing until the driver places the warning devices…the flashing lights may be used at other times while a commercial motor vehicle is stopped in addition to, but not in lieu of, the warning devices.”

Section(b) provides that the driver of the commercial truck shall, as soon as possible, or within 10 minutes of stopping, place one of the following warning devices as codified under 49 CFR §393.95(f):

  • Three bidirectional emergency reflective triangles that conform to the requirements of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 125;
  • At least 6 fuses or 3 liquid-burning flares. The commercial truck must have as many additional fuses or liquid-burning flares as are necessary; or
  • Other warning devices may be used in addition to, but not in lieu of, the required warning devices, provided those warning devices do not decrease the effectiveness of the required warning devices.

The placement of warning signals after a commercial truck driver stops or parks on the side of the roadway must follow the following three requirements:

  1. One on the traffic side of and 4 paces (approximately 10 feet) from the stopped CMV in the direction of the approaching traffic;
  2. One at 40 paces (approximately 100 feet) from the stopped CMV in the center of the traffic lane or shoulder occupied by the CMV and in the direction away from approaching traffic; and
  3. One at 40 paces (approximately 100 feet) from the stopped CMV in the center of the traffic lane or shoulder occupied by the CMV and in the direction away from approaching traffic.

If an accident occurs involving a CMV parked on the side of the highway that did not follow the requirements listed above, either the CMV driver or CMV company may be held liable for any resulting injuries.

Who is Liable for an Accident Caused by a Parked Commercial Truck?

After an accident occurs between two or more vehicles—including commercial trucks—it is important to establish fault. That way if the crash caused any injuries or wrongful death, the injured party could file a personal injury claim to win compensation for the damages caused by the wreck.

When an accident occurs involving a parked CMV, it is usually due to another motor vehicle not seeing the parked semi until it becomes too late to brake or swerve out of the way of a collision. Even with the commercial truck parked, the injuries a person can sustain from colliding with a parked semi can be catastrophic, and even result in death.

Dealing with CMVs and fault can be complex due to liability potentially falling on the truck driver, truck company, or other party involved in the wreck.

It is important to establish that a commercial truck driver who fails to abide by Kentucky or Federal law when they stop or park their vehicle on the shoulder or side of the road can be held liable for any resulting motor vehicle accident. The CMV company could also be held liable for the negligence of their drivers.  

However, if the CMV is parked legally, then the fault may fall on the driver of the other vehicle. If the other driver was operating their vehicle while under the influence, or in a negligent or careless manner, then they may be held liable for the resulting commercial truck accident.

Law enforcement can help after the accident by filling out a collision report to establish who was at fault. If you’ve recently been in a commercial motor vehicle accident where the other party was at fault, contact the personal injury attorneys with Morrin Law. We can provide you with a free case evaluation to discuss filing a personal injury claim.

Example Case in Kentucky

June 2013Todd McCall, 22, had just finished visiting a friend in Berea and was driving along Interstate 75 near Lexington. Around 2am, McCall’s truck drifted off the road and slammed into the back of a tractor trailer that was parked on the highway’s shoulder. His family believes he may have accidentally fallen asleep at the wheel, due to his truck not slowing down at all prior to hitting the commercial truck. “It was one of those things that…until it happens to you, you just don’t really pay attention to,” said Michael McCall, Todd’s father. “Since then I’ve seen so many trucks parked on the side of the road.”

Contact Morrin Law Firm

The best advice for a CMV driver is to prepare ahead. When a CMV operator becomes too tired to drive, the best thing they can do is stop at a designated rest area. However, if the only option is to pull over on the shoulder or side of the highway, then it’s important that the driver follows all the right steps to provide a warning to other drivers on the road. Failing to do so is illegal and dangerous.

For other motorists, it is important to remain alert in case there is a CMV stopped on the side with no warning. If an accident occurs involving a parked CMV, the first thing you should do is contact the police and receive medical help. It’s important to document any medical documents, police reports, evidence from the accident scene, and the trucking company records. Once you’ve gathered evidence, contact a personal injury attorney. The attorneys with Morrin Law Firm are prepared to fight hard to win your deserved compensation. Call our office today at (859) 358-0300 or message us online to receive a risk-free case evaluation.