Having the right knowledge of what to do
You might be a safe driver and a good operator of well-maintained equipment, but at some point in your career, having accidents or breakdowns are inevitable. You can minimize losses when you know what to do when these unexpected situations occur.
According to section 393.95 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), your commercial motor vehicle should have at least:
- Six flares that have the capability to burn for 30 minutes
- Three bidirectional emergency reflective triangles,
- Three liquid burning flares with enough fuel to burn for 60 minutes continuously
You are prohibited from having flame-producing devices on these vehicles:
- Any vehicle containing Division 1.1, 1.2 or 1.3 (explosives) hazardous materials,
- Any cargo tank motor vehicle that is being used to transport Division 2.1 (flammable gas) or Class 3 (flammable liquid) hazardous materials whether loaded or empty, or
- Any commercial motor that uses compressed gas its motor fuel.
When a breakdown or accident occurs, you should:
- Stop and ensure the area is secure.
- Turn on the four-way flashers of your vehicle.
- As per regulations requirement within ten minutes of stopping, set out your warning devices.
- If there is a breakdown, call your company and tell them what happened in clear details.
In the event of an accident
- Call the law enforcement.
- Check for injuries.
- Call your company.
- Document the accident.
Warning Device placement
- As we mentioned earlier, if your vehicle stops on the shoulder of the highway, you must activate the four-way flashers of your vehicle within ten minutes and set out warning devices at once.
- Remember to hold the devices in front of you to increase your visibility to traffic. Also, you should put on a high visibility vest if you can and be alert for other drivers who may not see you on the road.
Depending on where the vehicle stops, the placement of the device varies.
On a two-lane road:
- Place the first device on the traffic side of the vehicle 10 feet (about 4 paces) from the front or rear, depending on the direction of traffic,
- Place the second device 100 feet (about 40 paces) behind the vehicle, and
- Place the third device 100 feet (40 paces) ahead of the vehicle on the lane the vehicle stopped.
One-way or divided highway
- Place the devices 10, 100 and 200 feet from the rear of the vehicle and toward the approaching traffic
- Within 500 feet of a hill, curve or obstruction:
- Place a device 100 to 500 feet from the vehicle in the direction of the obstruction.
- Place the other two according to the rules for two-lane or divided highways.
You need to have an accident report kit
You should have an accident report kit in addition to having the required warning devices. This makes it easy for you to locate all the items in one place in case of an accident.
The accident report kit should include:
- A written report form to make documentation easy,
- A high-visibility vest,
- A diagram template to allow for a simple drawing of the accident scene,
- Pens and pencils,
- Witness card, and
- A camera.