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Cok Kinzler PLLP

Examining the warning requirements for disabled vehicles

With more vehicles on Bozeman’s highways thanks to summertime travel comes an increased likelihood of you encountering one stopped on the shoulder or middle of the road. Many have comes to us here at Cok Kinzler PLLP after having been in collisions with disabled vehicles wondering what sort of requirements the drivers of such vehicles have to warn others of their presence. The answer to that question depends largely on the type of vehicle involved.

Montana’s Annotated Code recognizes a need for drivers to be informed of disabled vehicles on the shoulders or lanes of the highway ahead of them. However, the state’s law outlining the requirements for disabled vehicle warnings only applies to the following vehicle types:

  • Motor trucks
  • Passenger buses
  • Tractor-trailers
  • Semitrailers
  • Pole trailers

If and when such vehicles do become disabled on the highway, their drivers must place indicators on the road warning you and others who may be approaching. Approved indicators include lit fuses, red electric lanterns or red emergency reflectors. On a highway outside of any of the state’s municipalities, these must be placed 100 feet from the vehicle both in the center of the lane the vehicle is occupying and the one coming in the opposite direction. Another must also be placed within 10 feet of the forward or rearward side of the vehicle. Those distance requirements may change depending on the location of the disabled vehicle.

There are no regulations in place requiring the drivers of standard passenger vehicles to warn others when they are disabled on the roadway. Should you see such a vehicle in the distance, it is typically recommended that you move to the lane furthest away from it in order to offer it a large berth. More information on accident avoidance can be found here on our site.

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