Saturday, September 05, 2015

The Glowing Red Triangle

So this isn't the best picture, but it happened today so I thought I'd use it for a post about the proper placement of warning devices.

Commercial vehicles are required to carry certain types of emergency equipment on their power unit. One of those items is reflective triangles.  We're required to have three bidirectional reflective triangles that conform to the requirements of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations, Standard No. 125, 49 CFR 571.125.

In addition to what type of warning devices you must carry, there are rules for the placement of those devices.  Those rules can be found here.

We came upon this guy as we were getting off an exit ramp.  It was a short ramp that curved to the left and before you knew it, we were upon him.  Ed was driving and as he got closer noticed the guy was broken down, so he moved into the right lane.  I couldn't grab my camera fast enough to get a shot of the length of the exit ramp, but I was able to get this shot. Like I said, it's not the best as the sun was setting and the windows are dirty, but what I was trying to capture were the location of the triangles.

Do you see those three triangles?  Good.

The purpose of warning devices are to warn oncoming traffic of a breakdown or accident. You can be the safest driver on the road, operate equipment that's in tip-top shape, and still have to deal with a breakdown or accident.  This truck was not in an accident, but he was clearly having some issues preventing him from moving. When we passed by, we saw that he had a road service truck parked in front of him, helping him with whatever issues he was having.

But that wasn't his only issue. His other problem was the placement of his triangles. They're in the wrong spot.  Well, technically they're in the right spot, behind the vehicle, but they're not placed properly.

According to the FMCSA regulations, you're supposed to activate your four-way flashers and set out your warning devices within 10 minutes of stopping. His flashers were not activated, which may have something to do with the breakdown, so we can't fault him for that without having more information.  

But we can fault him for not putting his warning devices where they should be. I've seen this many times, where drivers place all three triangles directly behind their truck. My first thought is that they're too lazy to walk them out where they need to be. I get that, I'm not much of a walker myself, but I'll tell you what - I'd much rather march my ass a few hundred feet behind my vehicle than get hit by someone.

Determining where the warning devices go are based on what type of road you're on:

The first device should be placed on the traffic side of the vehicle 10 feet (4 paces) from the front or rear, depending on traffic direction. The second device should be placed 100 feet (40 paces) behind the vehicle, and a third device should be placed 100 feet (40 paces) ahead of the vehicle on the shoulder or in the lane where the vehicle is stopped.

The devices should be placed 10, 100 and 200 feet from the rear of the vehicle, toward approaching traffic.

A device should be placed 100 to 500 feet from the vehicle in the direction of the obstruction. The other two should be placed according to the rules for two-lane or divided highways.

If you look at the picture, you'll see that the driver placed all three triangles within the first maybe 30 feet. I'm estimating, of course, because I didn't get out and measure, but I have a pretty good eye.  We definitely know it isn't 100, 200, or 500 feet.  Because he's pulling a van trailer, whose standard measurement is 53 feet long, you can pretty much figure out that he didn't walk the 100 feet.

He really should have done a better job following the regulation for this situation.

Just remember - truckers, not other readers - it's important to make sure you adequately warn oncoming traffic of any kind of breakdown. It's a matter of safety - yours and the other drivers. You certainly don't want anyone to hit you and you definitely don't want to cause an accident because someone couldn't see you as they came around a curve or crested a hill.

And other readers - if you come upon a truck that's disabled on the side of the road, whether they have their triangles placed properly or not, please move to the far lane as you pass them.  If you see warning devices out please heed them as early as you can, slow down and maneuver safely around them.

We appreciate it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
2014: I Prefer IPY To DIY

2013: Heading To Primm
2012: Fashion (And Country) Forward
2011: Slowly Meandering Through Farm Country
2010: Long Beach Lights
2009: 4423 Humboldt Avenue
2008: Eddie Tourist Friday
2007: Ripe For A Dognapping
2006: What Lies Beneath
2005: Big Sky Country

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