Truck drivers need to be prepared for all kinds of situations. Since they are highly trained and have to follow specific requirements while on the road, there’s a lot of information that they need to stay up to date on to ensure they are always following the rules. Extremely important rules truck drivers need to follow include the requirements for what to do when their truck breaks down. These rules are intended to keep the truck driver, other motorists, and everyone around as safe as possible in the event of a breakdown.
In an ideal world, every delivery and haul would be made safely and without any complications. But in a big rig, it’s possible for something to go wrong at any time. That’s why truck drivers need to follow the rules regarding equipment requirements for when a truck breaks down. Let’s take a look at those so truck drivers can be fully informed and remain as safe as possible on the road.
Federal Trucking Regulations in a Break Down
In the trucking industry, there is a set of rules that truck drivers must follow in order to keep their trucks and themselves as safe as possible while in transit. Many of these rules are designed to prevent accidents, breakdowns, and other harmful events from happening so that everyone on the road can stay safe. However, some of these rules are in place so that truckers know what to do in the event of a dangerous situation.
One of those situations is when a truck breaks down. There are requirements, as detailed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Code of Federal Regulations, for the equipment that you must keep on board your tractor-trailer that you can use in an emergency situation. According to these regulations, all trucks, tractors, and buses are required to have this equipment to help in the event of a breakdown or accident:
- One or more labeled and marked fire extinguisher that doesn’t need protection from freezing temperatures
- Spare fuses for each type of part on the truck that requires a fuse
- Warning devices for other vehicles in the form of three reflective triangles, six fusees, three liquid-burning flares, or other additional warning devices
These may seem like simple rules, but there are more detailed rules surrounding the required warning devices and which can be used, their regulations, and at what times they’re allowed. Let’s take a look at those requirements so that truck drivers know to follow the rules at all times, especially in an emergency situation.
Requirements for Warning Devices
There are additional requirements when it comes to the warning devices that truck drivers use in an emergency situation. This can seem frustrating because the rules are so detailed, but in reality, they are in place to keep the truck driver and any other driver on the road safe from any more emergencies. If you don’t use the proper warning device, it could cause a truck accident, or a truck could explode if the driver was pulling flammable or hazardous cargo.
Depending on the cargo being carried and if it’s hazardous or flammable, liquid-burning flares might be restricted from use in emergency situations. If the semi is pulling hazardous materials, it’s likely that liquid-burning flares, fusees, and oil lanterns will not be allowed on the truck in general. There are also other requirements for liquid-burning flares and red flags.
When using liquid-burning flares and fusees, there are some regulations. A fusee must be able to burn for 30 minutes, and liquid-burning flares must be able to burn continuously for an hour. They must conform to safety rules that are in place and also be marked with the correct UL symbol to ensure utmost safety.
When using red flags, there are also some regulations. Since many trucks aren’t able to use the other types of warning signs because they are flammable or could cause more dangerous scenarios, red flags are likely the best option for truck drivers. These red flags cannot be smaller than 12 inches square, and must be able to stand upright on their own when placed on the ground. This way, they are sure to be visible.
Safety Tips for When a Tractor Trailer Breaks Down
You might think of a truck breaking down as a stressful event for truck drivers that takes up their valuable time to deliver goods, but there is more to it than that. When a tractor-trailer is stopped on the side of the highway because they have broken down, they not only are held back on time, they’re also in a potentially dangerous situation.
When any vehicle, including a large truck, is stopped on the side of the road, sometimes other drivers are drawn closer to it instead of avoiding it. This can cause a deadly crash or a crash that results in catastrophic life-altering injuries. That’s why it’s important to know safety tips for when a semi breaks down and a truck driver needs to stop.
Other than using the required equipment above, here are some tips for truck drivers when a truck breaks down:
- Get completely off the road and come to a complete stop
- Ensure your truck is as visible as possible, including the warning devices from above
- Be careful when exiting the truck, and try to exit on the passenger side if possible
- Call for roadside assistance
- Wait as far away from the road as possible
- If your truck does not pose a threat of blowing up or another dangerous event, staying inside could be safest for you
- Alert your trucking company so they know your situation
It can be difficult to deal with a breakdown as a truck driver. When you know all the requirements you have to follow and other safety tips, you can ensure it gets fixed as quickly as possible and you get back on the road safely.
Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys Could Help You
Unfortunately, there are times when drivers do not follow these simple safety precautions because they aren’t familiar with the regulations, don’t have the warning devices with them, or choose to not put them out on the road. When this happens, a catastrophic accident can occur to a driver who does not realize that a truck is disabled on the road ahead of him or her. If you have been involved in such an incident and suffered injuries and damages as a result, our truck accident lawyers can help. Reach out to our office today for a free, no-obligation consultation so we can get started helping you.
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