Mechanical Issues Leading to Truck Accidents
Many truck accidents caused by mechanical failures result from an issue with the truck’s braking system, tires, or electrical and lighting. Each component is critical for the safe operation and handling of an 18-wheeler. A failure in one of these systems can lead to a devastating wreck.
- Brake System Failures: 18-wheelers use a hydraulic braking system that rarely fails when properly maintained. When a hydraulic brake system fails, it is usually caused by a loss of hydraulic pressure. When this happens, the driver can slow the truck with the truck’s engine brake or the truck’s parking brake, which functions on a different system.
- Tire Issues: tire issues are the leading cause of trucks breaking down, accounting for more than 50% of all roadside failures. The truck’s front steer axle tire is the most dangerous tire to fail, and its failure often results in serious crashes. Truck drivers and companies are legally required to inspect each tire before and during transport to ensure sudden tire failures are prevented.
- Electrical Problems: an issue with a truck’s lighting system prevents other motorists from seeing the truck at night and during poor visibility. Electrical issues can occur for several reasons, and it is the responsibility of the trucking company and driver to ensure all lights work properly during transport.
Additionally, truck accidents caused by mechanical failures lead to similar accidents. For instance, brake failures often lead to rear-end collisions or rollover accidents. Likewise, a sudden tire failure will often result in a head-on collision. We handle many tire failure cases where the truck goes through the median and crashes into oncoming traffic. These are very dangerous and often fatal accidents.
Even when a mechanical failure does not lead to an immediate crash, it creates a risk of danger. We handle many cases involving motorists who crash into a disabled truck. These accidents are so prevalent that trucks parked on the side of roads are known as sitting ducks; it is only a matter of time before they are struck by a passing motorist. Commercial operators cannot forego routine maintenance and repair and then escape liability when an inevitable accident occurs.
How Do You Determine If Lack of Maintenance Caused the Truck Crash?
Accidents caused by mechanical failures are often not immediately apparent. To determine if poor maintenance or repair contributed to or caused the accident, attorneys trained in truck accidents will investigate the crash and determine the likely cause of the accident. If it appears the accident was caused by a mechanical issue, attorneys will request information related to maintenance and repair from the carrier company to determine if routine maintenance was conducted.
According to federal law, “every motor carrier and intermodal equipment provider must systematically inspect, repair, and maintain, or cause to be systematically inspected, repaired, and maintained, all motor vehicles and intermodal equipment subject to its control.” The CFR further states that all parts and accessories specified, along with any additional parts and accessories “which may affect the safety of operation,” shall be in safe operating condition at all times. Motor carriers must maintain maintenance records for each motor vehicle they control for 30 consecutive days for at least 12 months.
By examining the “Driver’s Vehicle Inspection Record,” the “Drivers’ Daily Vehicle Condition Report,” the onboard computer, all company records, and other operating and maintenance records, experts can determine whether the truck was being maintained properly.
The Dangers of Poor Semi-Truck Maintenance
The dangers of poor truck maintenance include worn tires, faulty brakes, fuel system problems, and unexpected decoupling of trailers.
Semi-trucks depend on every vehicle system to operate properly, and poor maintenance on any component can cause the truck to be dangerously unsafe to drive. Brake issues can make these vehicles difficult or even impossible to stop safely. An issue with a truck’s tire can lead to a sudden loss of control and cause catastrophic accidents. As with all motor vehicles, big rigs are only as safe as the mechanical components that enable them to function. Due to their size, weight, complexity, and heavy use, commercial trucks need to be examined and serviced every 15,000 miles.
Even when a truck failure does not cause an immediate accident, a mechanical failure often leaves trucks abandoned on the road, which increases the likelihood of subsequent crashes. Truck breakdowns in high-traffic areas create a dangerous hazard for passing motorists. Accidents caused by such trucks may subject the driver to legal liability for harm sustained by the injured motorist.
Parties Responsible for Preventing Maintenance-Related Crashes
The most obvious way to prevent accidents caused by poor truck maintenance is for truck drivers and trucking companies to be diligent and meticulous in the inspection and maintenance of their trucks. Truck drivers and their employers are responsible for inspecting and maintaining their vehicles to prevent foreseeable problems.
Drivers must be trained to complete daily vehicle inspections of their rigs. Truckers have a duty to report to their employers any defects or mechanical issues that could cause the vehicle to break down or be unsafe to drive. Reported issues must be repaired before the driver can complete their route.
Roadside service is very expensive, and trucking companies should do all they can to avoid such repairs. This can be accomplished by following routine maintenance and repair schedules. Trucking companies need to be proactive and conduct preventative maintenance on their 18-wheelers. This will not only prevent the truck from breaking down, but it will also extend the rig’s life and keep it functional for longer. Commercial truck companies have a duty to ensure their fleets are safe to operate prior to travel.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney to Help You After an Accident
Mechanical failures are often not apparent at the time of the crash and are only discovered after a detailed investigation by trained truck accident attorneys. However, it is important to uncover mechanical failures to ensure all injured parties recover the compensation they are entitled to. Trucking companies cannot forego routine maintenance and escape liability. If you or a family member were injured or killed in a truck accident and stand in need of legal assistance, contact the truck accident attorneys at The Ammons Law Firm. We have the training, experience, and resources to identify all causes of a crash and hold trucking companies responsible for their negligence.