Noncompliance with Conspicuity Requirements Can Result in Accidents, Liability

Tractor Trailer Rolling Down Highway

Large tractor-trailers and other commercial trucks have perhaps the most obvious presence on the roads and highways simply because of their large size compared to other vehicles. However, these trucks that are often so visible can become difficult to see at night or during other low-visibility conditions such as fog, rain, or snow. Due to the lack of lights, drivers may not see a trailer and may crash their car into the corner of the trailer, may drive into the back of a trailer, or may even change lanes directly into the side of a trailer. All of these collisions can result in severe injuries to motorists. If you have suffered injury in an accident because you were unable to adequately see a semi-truck trailer, you should discuss your situation with an experienced truck accident attorney at the Dolman Law Group in Clearwater, Florida as soon as possible.

FMCSA conspicuity requirements

To address the dangers of low visibility of truck trailers at night or in adverse weather, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)1 enacted and enforces numerous regulations intended to make a trailer more conspicuous on the highways. These “conspicuity requirements”2 are extremely important to keep other motorists safe by limiting the number of collisions with trailers.

Many of the regulations center around the use of retroreflective tape, which seems to glow when hit by headlights or other light sources. Trucking companies and private truck owners must use this tape in accordance with certain guidelines set out in the regulations. For example, tape must be placed on the following locations:

– Horizontally along each side of the trailer; though the tape does not have to be continuous, it does need to start and end at the front and back corners.
– Across the entire bottom edge of the rear side of the trailer.
– Across the underride guard on the rear end of the trailer.
– At the top left and right corners of the rear end of the trailer.

In addition to installing the tape, companies and drivers further have the duty to maintain the tape and other reflectors on the truck. If the retroreflective tape gets dirty, tears, or begins peeling, it must be repaired or replaced in a timely manner.

If companies follow conspicuity requirements, accidents and injuries are reduced

Several years after the enactment of conspicuity regulations, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a study3 regarding the effectiveness of these new rules in reducing accidents that occur due to low visibility. The study found that the use of retroreflective tape prevented thousands of accidents and injuries on an annual basis.

It is not a difficult task to comply with FMCSA conspicuity requirements and every truck should be properly outfitted with the necessary reflective tape and any other types of reflectors necessary to make the truck as visible as possible. If a truck company fails to have adequate conspicuity tape or fails to properly maintain the tape on the trailer, accidents can result. In such scenarios, the truck company should be held liable for any injuries or losses that accident victims suffered as a result.

Most people are not familiar with the FMCSA conspicuity requirements, so they may not be able to identify negligence in violating the regulations. For this reason, it is important to have an attorney investigating your case who will be able to recognize if a violation occurred and caused your accident. Violations of law can be used as important evidence of negligence in personal injury truck cases and can help you recover all that you deserve.

Find out how a skilled Clearwater truck accident lawyer can help you with your case

Commercial truck accidents often involve specific and complex regulations that do not apply in regular auto accident cases. At the Dolman Law Group, our truck accident attorneys understand the unique rules and issues that may be involved in cases with commercial truck collisions. We offer free consultations and can evaluate your situation to advise you of your rights and options. Please call our office in Clearwater, Florida today at 727-451-6900 for help.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33756