New Lighting Rules for Commercial Trucks Should Protect Motorists, Tennessee Attorney Says

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Morristown attorney Brack Terry says requiring a light to be placed at the rear of logs, poles and other objects projecting from trucks is an important new safety measure.

Brack Terry

Commercial motor vehicles pose unique hazards to other drivers, especially when they carry loads that project out from the rear of a truck or haul cargo that is not properly secured.

Starting July 1, commercial motor vehicle operators transporting logs or poles through Tennessee that stick out four feet or more from the rear of the truck will need to have special lighting or else face criminal penalties.

The amended state law, recently adopted by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed by Gov. Phil Bredesen, is a proactive step in ensuring the safety of other drivers on the road, Tennessee personal injury attorney Brack Terry says.

“Commercial motor vehicles pose unique hazards to other drivers, especially when they carry loads that project out from the rear of a truck or haul cargo that is not properly secured,” says Terry, a partner of the Morristown, Tennessee personal injury law firm of Terry, Terry & Stapleton. “We fully support any new or amended state laws that help ensure the safety of our Tennessee roads.”

Under the new law, any commercial vehicles transporting intrastate loads of logs, poles, long pulpwood or posts that project four feet or more beyond the rear of the body or bed of the truck, between the 30 minutes before sunset and 30 minutes after sunrise, will need to have one amber strobe-type lamp or one amber light-emitting diode (LED) visible from the rear.

To comply with the law, the lamps need to be detectable by other drivers from a distance of at least 500 feet from the rear of the load.

The law will not apply to non-commercial vehicles or commercial vehicles that transport intrastate loads that extend less than four feet at night or that transport during the daytime.

Rep. Bill Harmon (D-Dunlap) and Sen. Eric Stewart (D-Belvedere) sponsored the bills (HB2486/SB2699) that led to the amendment becoming law.

The bills were drafted in response to the tragic deaths of a 71-year-old man and his three-year-old grandson in a collision with a logging truck in November 2009 in Sequatchie County in southeast Tennessee, Harmon said when presenting the bill for a vote in May.

“We’re hauling logs that stick 15-18 feet off the back end of a tractor trailer,” Harmon said. “The most important part of this bill is for the log trucks and pole trucks in our area of the state.”

Commercial vehicle operators who fail to comply with the law will be subject to a Class C misdemeanor charge, resulting in a $50 fine and the potential for up to 30 days in jail.

However, through August 1, the Tennessee Highway Patrol will only issue warnings.

About Terry, Terry & Stapleton

Terry, Terry & Stapleton is a Morristown, Tennessee personal injury and criminal defense firm that has served East Tennessee residents for more than 46 years, including clients from the communities of Rogersville, Newport, Morristown, Knoxville, Kingsport, Johnson City, Jefferson City and Greeneville. The firm represents clients in commercial vehicle accident claims, car accident claims, workplace injuries, Social Security disability claims, medical malpractice lawsuits and product liability cases, in addition to other practice areas. For more information, contact the firm by calling 1-800-518-3779 or by using its online form.

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