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How to place emergency triangles on 3 types of roads
Two orange and reflective emergency triangles sit behind  truck that has pulled over to the shoulder of a highway.
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March 15, 2021

Editor’s note: Drivers should only stop on a highway or highway shoulder in the event of a true emergency in which a truck will no longer safely move or a driver is physically unable to drive. Other stops such as rest breaks, swapping drivers or adjusting navigation should only be completed in a safe and legal parking location.

Stopping on a highway or highway shoulder can be dangerous, especially if the road is winding, dark or has poor visibility due to weather conditions. The more visible you and your truck are during an emergency stop, the safer everyone on the road will be.

That’s why it is important to know how to place emergency triangles properly. These little safety triangles may just save a life.

How to set up emergency triangles

The first thing every driver should do when stopped on the traveled portion or shoulder of a highway, especially when putting out emergency triangles, is turn on their four-way flashers. This ensures that your vehicle is more visible to approaching motorists.

Drivers should also always wear reflective gear when putting down and collecting emergency triangles and should carry the triangles so reflective side of the of the warning devices are facing oncoming traffic.

How many reflective triangles should you carry in your truck?

Drivers are required carry three emergency triangles and place them in three locations during a stop.

How far apart should you place reflective triangles?

Emergency triangles must be placed within 10 minutes of stopping and should be kept in the passenger side box so they can be accessed in a way that keeps the driver away from traffic. Triangle placement locations may vary based on the location a driver stops and are spaced out to ensure that other motorists can see a stopped truck from a distance that still allows for a change in lanes or a slowing of speed.

The following are some of the most common emergency triangle placements for truck drivers:

Two Lane (Traffic in both directions and undivided highways)

  1. One triangle 100 ft. in front of the vehicle, centered in the lane the vehicle occupies.
  2. One triangle 10 ft. behind the vehicle on the traffic side of the vehicle.
  3. One triangle 100 ft. behind the vehicle in the center of the lane the vehicle occupies.
A semi-truck sits on the side of a two lane road. Safety triangles are marked at 100 feet in front of the truck and 10 and 100 feet behind the truck.

Drivers won’t always get stopped on the side of a straight road, two-way road. That’s why every truck driver should also know how to place emergency triangles on divided highways, one-way roads and roads with obstructed views.

Divided highways and one-way roads

When stopping on the shoulder of a one-way road or divided highway, you do not need to worry as much about motorists seeing you from the front, as everyone should be coming from one direction. This means that drivers should be placing all three of their triangles behind their vehicle in the following configuration:

  1. One triangle 10 ft. behind the vehicle on the traffic side of the vehicle.
  2. One triangle 100 ft. behind the vehicle in the center of the lane the vehicle occupies.
  3. One triangle 200 ft. behind the vehicle in the center of the lane it occupies.
A semi-truck that appears to have been in an accident sits on the shoulder of a divided highway. There are emergency triangles placed 10, 100 and 200 feet behind the truck.

Obstructed view (hills and curves)

Getting stopped on a hill or on the side of a road that curves can be especially dangerous, as oncoming motorists’ view is even more obstructed. Due to the increased lack of visibility in these kinds of locations, emergency triangle placement should be a further distance than in other situations.

  1. If stopped on a two-lane road, place one triangle at least 100 ft. ahead of the vehicle.
  2. One triangle should be placed 10 ft. behind the vehicle on the traffic side of the vehicle.
  3. Move the rearmost triangle between 100 ft. and 500 ft. back down the road to provide ample warning (the maximum distance from the vehicle shall not exceed 500 ft.).
A semi-truck that appears to have been in an accident sits on  the shoulder of a curved highway. There are emergency triangles placed 100 feet in front of the truck and 10 feet behind and one marked 100 to 500 feet behind the truck.

Want to learn even more helpful safety tips?

Schneider is dedicated to safety and educating drivers on how to be safer on the roads. Learn even more helpful safety tips by reading more of our safety focused blogs.

About the author
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Schneider Guy loves the "Big Orange." He's passionate about the trucking industry and connecting people to rewarding careers within it. He's been the eyes and ears of our company since our founding in 1935, and he's excited to interact with prospective and current Schneider associates through "A Slice of Orange."

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