Dangers of Parking on Highway Shoulders

We have all seen 18-wheelers parked on the shoulder of a highway while driving to work or taking a road trip. It happens so frequently on interstate-10 traveling to or from San Antonio that it would not be uncommon to see six or seven 18-wheelers pulled over on the highway’s shoulder. Is it illegal for 18-wheelers or commercial trucks to park there? More specifically, is the shoulder lane available for everyone to park on? The answers to these questions may surprise you and will undoubtedly help you maintain a stricter awareness of the highway laws.

What are highway shoulders used for?

Highway shoulders, also known as the ‘Clear Zone’, are “an unobstructed, traversable roadside area that allows a driver to stop safely or regain control of a vehicle that has left the roadway. The width of the ‘Clear Zone’ should be based on risk [of immediate danger]. Key factors in assessing risk include traffic volumes, speeds, and slopes. Clear roadsides consider both fixed objects and terrain that may cause vehicles to roll over.” –Federal Highway AdministrationThe information provided by the Federal Highway Administration tells us that the shoulder to the right or left of your lane is not for parking at all. These areas of the road are labeled as “recovery zones” and are not intended for parking. However, as drivers, we are used to seeing this portion of the highway being used regularly. Statistics show us that while personal cars do occupy the “recovery zones” across America, their total contribution to this inconvenience is only a fraction of the number of 18-wheelers that do. 

Increased Highway Danger

Driving near a big rig or 18-wheeler on the highway is not a comfortable situation. The truck-to-car ratio is skewed by a difference in the weight and height of the vehicles. When 18-wheelers park on the shoulder of the highway, drivers in standard vehicles are put at risk. It is important to take note of the size difference. For example. if a car traveling at highway speeds strikes a personal vehicle, it is roughly hitting a car with the same height, weight, and size as their own. However, if a personal vehicle strikes the side of an 18-wheeler, the large truck is likely to thin off the top of the car and catastrophically injure anyone inside it. 

Can 18-wheelers stop in “Recovery Zones?”

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) under § 392.22 Emergency Signals; Stopped Commercial Motor Vehicles:

  • This regulation specifies the steps that drivers must take by operating a commercial motor vehicle in situations involving emergency or shoulder stops on a roadway. The placement of warning devices in various situations, such as blind curves and distances at which the driver must warn the stop, is also delineated. Whether or not these regulations are followed can be very important in ensuring the safety of other vehicles in case of an emergency stop.

The FMCSA also states that this rule is not just about driving. It is about how a driver deals with an emergency and makes sure that they follow the safety measures called for in these deferral trucking regulations.

Danger Of Parking On the Highway Shoulder

Injured in an 18 Wheeler Accident?


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Cesar Ornelas Law is here for you

Commercial trucks may provide an essential service to our country, but they can be very dangerous. Over 130,000 injuries in the US are caused by large truck accidents. Large commercial truck collisions often result in injuries or fatalities too. Combined with another dangerous vehicle – a train carrying oil tanks for example – the situation can quickly cause injury and claim lives.

If you or someone you love has been injured in an 18 wheeler accident or explosion, you will need an experienced, successful injury lawyer to help you bear the burden of lost income, mounting medical bills, and other expenses caused by your injuries.

Cesar Ornelas is the lawyer who can evaluate your situation and give you excellent advice to handle all the details of your misfortune. The Cesar Ornelas Law Firm offers a FREE CONSULTATION for your initial visit where your questions can be answered, and you will learn if you have a good case for any compensation.

Cesar always works to give you the best results. You don’t even pay unless he and his team win your case. Give Cesar a call today toll free at 885-827-2892 or 210-981-4890 or fill out a contact form that will generate a quick email to him.

Looking for peace of mind and a helping hand from someone who knows what to do for you? Look no further. Cesar and his team are ready to represent you and your needs!

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How To Find Us

Our office is conveniently located off Huebner Road and only about 20 minutes away from de Bexar County Courthouse. If you are visiting from San Antonio International Airport, the drive should take you about 25 min during normal traffic conditions. If you come from the Downtown San Antonio, the best route is to take the I-10 until exit 561 and turn right on Huebner Road. You will find our building on the left after 0.4 miles


If you or a loved one has been seriously injured, please fill out the form below for your free consultation or call us at: (855) 930-1149

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