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Truck Safety Expert Witness:
The Liability of Parking a Big Rig on the Shoulder.

By Jim Acock & Kerry Nelson

Truck Accident and Safety Expert Articles

D&A Consultants was recently the trucking expert hired in a case involving a truck parked on the shoulder of the road. D&A has been involved in a large numbers of cases with a similar situation.  What made this case different, was that the attorney was not sure he had a legal precedent with which to form a basis for his client.  The attorney, was a former prosecutor and new to the civil side of the legal system. D&A was able to walk him through the safety rules and the standard of care involved in these types of cases. Upon gaining more details regarding the issue, it was discovered that the attorney’s plaintiff had dozed off while driving. Due to one of our expert witnesses, we were able to guide the former prosecutor past the plaintiff’s sleep issue. After reviewing the details of the accident site, it turned out the driver of the vehicle should have parked in a safer location than the shoulder of the road.  The attorney was able to obtain a settlement offer both he and his client felt was reasonable.

truck in emergency lane

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), based in Washington, DC, creates the design standards for State and National Highways. They recommend construction standards for shoulder and right of way design, including the removal of dangerous obstructions such as, trees, steep slopes, or abutments. AASHTO’s reason for this design is to not have obstructions which hinder a motorist from being able to recover from an unintended departure from the roadway. Where terrain prohibits, they recommend guardrails, which redirect errant vehicles back onto the paved portion of the roadway. When a commercial vehicle driver parks an 18-wheeler or other large Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) in this “recovery zone” the driver has placed an eminent hazard to any vehicle which may depart, for whatever reason, from the travel portion of the roadway.

There is a recognized condition known as the “Moth Effect” which stems from a vehicle parked on the shoulder. The “Moth Effect” is where drivers are attracted to a vehicles flashing lights or other things along the roadway. Frequently the “Moth Effect” causes the unwary driver to run into the parked CMV.  The “Moth Effect” is heightened when visibility is hampered such as at night or perhaps during a dust storm, which is common in Arizona.  D&A consultants has been the expert witness in a large number of these cases.

When reviewing a case that involves a CMV parked by the side of the road, it is important to determine why the driver chose that particular spot to pullover and/or stop. Did the driver have the ability to stop in a safer location? Was it an actual emergency or mechanical failure? Was the driver failing to follow safety rules and simply stopped for a “break”.

Have a question for our Truck Accident and Safety Experts? 

Call us @ 888-277-1979 for a free consultation.

Check out these related Articles:
Improper use of the Emergency Lane! 1

NO PARKING! in the Emergency Lane! 2

NO PARKING! in the Emergency Lane! 3

Emergency Lane! 4 Blending with Traffic


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