As drivers, we’ve all experienced frustration at finding our path blocked or our progress slowed by another motorist. Frustration can quickly turn to fear and danger if the motorist is driving a big rig truck and the roadway is unsafe or unfit for large commercial vehicles. Here is a brief look at several types of roadways and the problems that can be caused when big rig trucks occupy them.
For many people, the worst place to find an 18-wheeler would be in their own neighborhood. Huge commercial vehicles on quiet residential streets can create a host of problems, from merely inconvenient to downright deadly. On the inconvenient side of the spectrum, big rig truck engines are much noisier than those found on passenger vehicles. In a neighborhood, they can easily wake sleeping families or interrupt leisure activities. 18-wheelers might also block driveways or slow traffic, making it difficult or impossible for people to get home.
On the more dangerous side of the spectrum, 18-wheelers on residential streets can easily contribute to automobile accidents. Big rig trucks are so large that they often obscure visibility on the road and are difficult to pass safely. They also have such a large turn radius that they may not be able to turn onto or off of a narrow residential street at all or may misjudge the turn and hit another car, mailbox, curb, trash bin, or sign. Perhaps most frightening of all, 18-wheelers have larger blind spots and longer stopping distances than regular cars. If a playing child runs into the street a big rig truck will have more difficulty stopping or may not see the child at all. The same danger, of course, goes for pets, joggers, or cyclists in the neighborhood.
Can Semi-Trucks Park On Residential Streets?
Yes, semi-trucks can park on residential streets with some exceptions. Notable, they are often not permitted to park on residential streets after 10 p.m. and before 6 a.m. Additionally, in certain areas, trucks must be under a certain size in order to be eligible to park in residential areas.
Depending on the nature of the city street and the businesses that line it, many of the same dangers and inconveniences that exist for big rig trucks on residential streets can carry over to a city street. The added engine noise may disturb working professionals or shopping customers. A parked 18-wheeler may also block a business’s entrance or exit or disrupt the flow of traffic in the area. These dangers can easily arise due to 18-wheelers trying and failing to make a narrow turn, other motorists attempting to pass, or pedestrians walking across the roadway.
City streets typically come with a great deal of stop-and-go traffic and thus truckers who are not vigilant, and who are already driving vehicles that take longer to stop, can easily rear-end other vehicles. Life-threatening risks can also arise if the 18-wheeler is blocking the way for emergency responders like police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances.
Country roads are usually remote and lower traffic roadways; however, the nature of many country roads can still make them an unsafe fit for big rig trucks. One common problem is that country roads may be dirt or gravel and have significantly reduced traction. This can make it even more difficult for big rig trucks to safely stop in time to avoid a collision. Many country roads are also very narrow and very winding, making them particularly unsuitable for a large commercial vehicle with reduced maneuverability.
An 18-wheeler that jackknifes or otherwise loses control is always dangerous and inconvenient, but if the jackknife occurs on a country road it may be even more difficult and time-consuming to resolve. Any 18-wheeler-related accident that occurs on a remote country road also brings with it an extra level of danger, since emergency responders will take longer to arrive on the scene. Accidents may even go unnoticed on infrequently traveled roads, potentially leaving victims trapped and overlooked.
BRIDGES AND OVERPASSES
Bridges and overpasses, regardless of what type of roadway they are found on, often create extra hazards. If the bridge is small or old it may have a reduced weight limit and may not be safe for an 80,000-pound commercial vehicle. Bridges and overpasses often have little-to-no shoulder space for an 18-wheeler to pullover and any accidents that occur on a bridge or overpass can create serious structural damage and may trap motorists without a viable detour. Depending on the height of the big rig truck and the clearance of the overpass, a truck may also hit an overpass or become stuck when attempting to travel underneath one.
LAWS AND ORDINANCES VARY
It would be nice if drivers were always aware of whether or not a big rig truck was violating any laws by using a certain type of roadway. This would allow people to quickly and easily report the offender and it might lead to greater safety and fewer accidents. Unfortunately, it is not so cut and dry. Laws and city ordinances addressing commercial vehicles on a given type of roadway typically vary from city to city and county to county. Even within the same jurisdiction laws and ordinances vary depending on the way a given area is zoned, and sometimes even by the time of day.
A commercial vehicle may be permitted on a given roadway under some circumstances, but not others. For example, if an 18-wheeler is loading, unloading, or making deliveries it may be allowed. If it is carrying hazardous materials it may be prohibited from entering an otherwise allowable area that is open to other big rig trucks. The size of the commercial vehicle and the weight of its load may also play a factor in whether or not it is allowed in a certain area.
If you have been involved in a commercial truck-related accident it is important to consult with a knowledgeable attorney. Your attorney will be able to evaluate the facts of the case and determine whether or not the big rig truck was breaking any laws simply by being in a particular area in the first place. Even if the truck’s presence was permissible your attorney will also be able to look at the other circumstances surrounding the case to see if the driver was negligent or broke the law in any other way that may have been a proximate cause of the accident.