Ask A Trooper
Sgt. Jesse Grabow
Question: Sometimes while I am traveling I’ve noticed a set of reflective triangles out behind a semi? Can I use those on my personal passenger car if it were to break down? Any advice is appreciated.
Answer: The best thing to do is make sure your vehicle is off the traveled portion of the highway and onto the shoulder. Then turn on your emergency flashers (hazard lights) so your vehicle is more visible to other motorists.
If you can safely display some type of emergency equipment, remember your personal safety. Other motorists might not be able to see you, so pay attention. High visibility reflective gear would be beneficial. If the roads are slippery and visibility is limited, it’s a very dangerous situation to be outside your vehicle.
If you drive a commercial vehicle, you’re required to carry three emergency triangles and place them in three locations during a stop. Emergency triangles must be placed within 10 minutes of stopping and should be kept in the passenger side box so they can be safely accessed and keep the driver away from traffic. Triangle placement locations may vary based on where the driver stopped. They are spaced out to ensure that other motorists can see the truck from a distance and change lanes or slow down.
Two Lane (traffic in both directions and
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.
and One-Way Roads
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 the vehicle occupies.
Obstructed View (hills and curves)
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.).
For the rest of the motoring public, if you see emergency triangles, flares, lights or other items, take note immediately and slow down. Be prepared to stop and drive accordingly.
If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol at 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. (You can follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at, email@example.com).