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  • Writer's pictureFront Range Compliance

Placing Emergency Triangles

Stopping on a highway or shoulder can be extremely dangerous, especially if the road is curved, dark or weather conditions are limiting visibility. The better others on the road are able to see you and your vehicle, the safer you will be. This is one of the reasons that placing emergency triangles properly is extremely important, and could potentially save your life.


Remember, you should only stop on the road in the event of a true emergency. Rest stops, breaks or making adjustments in the cab do not constitute as an actual emergency and instead should be completed in a legal parking location.

Emergency triangle on road with semi truck behind
Image derived from: https://www.freightwaves.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/02/Roadside-service-credit-JAFW.jpg

How to set up emergency triangles The first thing every driver should do when stopped the side of the road, especially when putting out emergency triangles, is turn on their your hazard lights to ensure that your vehicle is more visible to approaching motorists.

Drivers should also always wear reflective gear when stopped on the side of the road, putting down and collecting emergency triangles. Also, make sure to carry the triangles so the reflective side of the of the warning device faces oncoming traffic.

How many reflective triangles should you carry in your truck? Drivers are required carry three emergency triangles and place them in three specific locations while stopped.

How far apart should you place reflective triangles? Emergency triangle placement locations vary based on the location of the stopped truck. The triangles must be properly spaced ensuring that other motorists can see a stopped truck from a distance allowing for oncoming traffic to change lanes or slow their speed.

Two Lane Roads

triangle placement for two lane road
  1. One triangle 10 ft in front of the vehicle on the side of the oncoming traffic.

  2. One triangle 10 ft behind the vehicle on the side of the oncoming traffic.

  3. One triangle 100 ft behind the vehicle in the center of the lane the vehicle occupies.

Drivers won’t always get stopped on the side of a straight road, two-lane road. Being stopped or broken down on a two-lane road isn't guaranteed, which is why every driver must know how to place emergency triangles on different types of roads.

Divided Highways and One-Way Roads

triangle placement for divided highway

If stopped on the shoulder of a one-way road or divided highway, you won't need to worry as much about motorists seeing you from the front, all traffic should be coming from behind your stopped vehicle. All three triangles should be placed behind the vehicle.

  1. One triangle 10 ft behind the vehicle on the side of the oncoming traffic.

  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 being occupied.


Obstructed View

triangle placement for hills, grades or obstructed views

Due to the increased lack of visibility for oncoming motorists in these kinds of locations, emergency triangle placement will be a further distance than in the previously mentioned situations.

  1. One triangle will be placed at least 100 ft ahead of the vehicle.

  2. One triangle should be placed 10 ft behind the vehicle on the side of the oncoming traffic.

  3. The final triangle will be placed between 100 ft and 500 ft back down the road to provide ample warning to vehicles coming up on your truck.

Remember, you should only stop on the road in the event of a true emergency. Placing your emergency triangles in the proper position is imperative and could potentially save your life. After the triangles are placed, make sure you know what the next steps are in the event of a breakdown.

Make sure to check out our online DOT Training platform, DOT University! We currently are offering Reasonable Suspicion for Supervisors, Cargo Securement, Defensive Driving, and Pre/Post Trip Inspection. In the coming months, we plan on releasing DOT Compliance Essentials and Appendix A.

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