Commercial trucks require regular maintenance and repairs to be safely operated. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has inspection and maintenance requirements, but they have been criticized for being too loose and generalized. For example, based on FMCSA requirements, a semi-truck only needs to have all “parts and accessories” in “safe and proper condition at all times.” This is not a specific inspection frequency requirement, and it leaves a lot of gray areas for trucking companies to only fix a broken part after it has already caused a problem like a truck accident.
Still, when a truck accident happens and there is reason to believe that the truck in question was inadequately maintained, it could lend to the credibility of the injured party’s claim. Different types of maintenance issues cause different crash risks, too, so knowing the details of a truck’s repair history is important.
Common Truck Maintenance Issues That Contribute to Accidents
Failure to Check and Replace Tires
Commercial trucks have far more tires than a standard passenger vehicle. 18-wheelers are named that way for a reason. But it only takes one of those tires to burst for the truck driver to lose control of their heavy and large vehicle. Accidents caused by tire failures can be prevented by checking the tread depth and condition of each tire at the start of every route. When a defective tire is identified, the truck driver should have it replaced immediately.
Failure to Maintain Braking Systems
The braking systems of a commercial truck undergo tremendous stress and pressure each time they are used. When a truck is loaded to the legal capacity, the brakes have to bring 80,000 pounds to a complete stop from highway speeds. A defect in the braking system could cause a complete braking failure, and the truck could slam into the vehicles in front of it. As with tires, brakes should be checked for any issues before the beginning of every route because a single failure is all it takes to cause a devastating accident.
Failure to Maintain Lights and Blinkers
Many truck accidents are caused by a truck merging or changing lanes without providing enough warning to vehicles in adjacent lanes. Drivers will have an even more difficult time noticing that a truck is trying to change lanes if the trailer’s blinkers and lights are defective and not working. Truck drivers should give a quick check each day to see that blinkers are all working correctly. Lights along a trailer can be inspected less frequently, but they should be replaced as they go out.
No Underride Rails Installed
Underride accidents are a particularly dangerous type of truck accident in which a smaller vehicle is forced and caught under the trailer of a semi-truck. To prevent underride accidents, many trailers must have underride rails on the back and sides, which are essentially guard rails that prevent cars from entering the gap. If no underride rails are installed and an underride accident happens, then there is no excuse for the negligence. The truck driver and the trucking company should have known that the rails could help stop a truck accident, and they should have been installed before the trailer was used again.
If you’ve been in a truck accident and you think it was caused by, at least in part, a maintenance issue or failure, then Dunk Law Firm would like to hear from you. Call our truck accident attorneys at (800) 674-9339 or use an online contact form to see if you have the ground to file a claim or lawsuit.