It’s not uncommon to drive down the highway late at night and see a random tractor-trailer puller over the side of the road. While you may think that it is because the truck broke down, in the majority of these scenarios, the truck driver has most likely just pulled over in order to sleep. However, as a recent fatal truck crash on I-81 shows, this practice can be deadly.
The fatal accident occurred late July, in Botetourt County. According to police reports, the driver of a tractor-trailer had parked his vehicle on the side of the road at mile marker 158 so he could sleep. The victim was driving a pickup truck down I-81 when he hit the tractor-trailer, which was illegally parked. The force of the crash caused the pickup truck to cross into the opposite lane and when it came to a stop, another tractor-trailer slammed into it. The victim, a 30-year-old Lexington man, was taken to Roanoke Memorial Hospital where he later died.
The driver of the truck that was illegally parked was cited for four different violations, including parking to sleep illegally and not leaving fluorescent markers around the truck to warn other drivers. Police also cited other truck drivers in the area who were also illegally parked.
Rules of the Road
Federal law says commercial vehicle drivers can only drive 11 hours a day, however, many truck drivers have cited an issue with the lack of places to stop and sleep along I-81 in Virginia when they have hit their maximum hours. This incident has led to police stepping up the number of violations they are issuing to truck drivers who fail to follow the rules.
According to federal law, there are a number of things a truck driver must do when they are pulling over and stopping on the side of the road:
- The driver must immediately turn on their hazard warning flashers.
- The flashers must stay on until the driver places a warning device on the side of the road visible to traffic. This device must be placed no more than 10 minutes after the truck driver has pulled the vehicle over. Approved devices include red flags, three bi-directional reflective triangles, liquid-burning flares, and fuses.
- The device must be placed four paces from the truck in the direction of oncoming traffic, 40 paces from the vehicle in the center of the shoulder in the direction of oncoming traffic, and 40 paces from the vehicle in the direction away from oncoming traffic.
- If the truck stopped and parked within 500 feet of a curve, hill, or other type of obstruction, a warning device must also be placed in the direction of that obstruction at a distance of approximately 100 to 500 feet from the truck.
Contact a Virginia Truck Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in any type of truck accident, contact a Virginia truck accident attorney to discuss what legal recourse you may have. Truck accident cases can be complex, and it is not uncommon for there to be multiple at-fault parties who are responsible for the payment of financial damages you may be entitled to for your injuries. Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn has successfully represented many injured victims and their families and we are happy to meet with you and offer legal guidance on what the best options may be for your circumstances.