A driver was killed when he struck the rear of a parked tractor trailer on the side of a highway in California on the night of January 29th. The news report does not mention whether the unoccupied tractor trailer was properly parked with flashing hazard lights and refrecting triangles deployed to warn drivers of it presence.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, at 49 CFR 392.22, requires that when a commercial motor vehicle is stopped in a traffic lane or on the shoulder of a road, the truck driver must immediately activate the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers, and within no more than ten minutes place three reflective warning triangles at specified locations.
Considering the pattern of other court cases in California construing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, I expect a California court would find that failure to comply with this rule — if that is in fact what happened — would be negligence as a matter of law.
Ken Shigley is an Atlanta, Georgia trial attorney with a practice is focused on cases of catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death arising from commercial truck and bus accidents. A former chair of the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute, he is a frequent speaker at national continuing legal education seminars on trucking liability law. He has been rated as a "Super Lawyer" (Atlanta Magazine), one of the "Legal Elite" (Georgia Trend Magazine), and a Certified Civil Trial Advocate (National Board of Trial Advocacy). He practices with the Atlanta law firm of Chambers, Aholt & Rickard , and is currently Secretary (and Treasurer-elect) of the State Bar of Georgia. He is available for free consultation about cases of serious injury or wrongful death in Georgia.