Accidents between trucks and passenger vehicles present a serious risk of injury and death due to the differences in the size and weight of the vehicles involved. The vast majority of truck accidents — 87%, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration — are due to human error, but improper truck maintenance is responsible for a further 10% of accidents. While most truck drivers and trucking companies exercise diligence in maintaining their fleets, cutting corners is inevitable in any industry, and even the most prudent truckers can sometimes make mistakes.
Some of the most common consequences of improper truck maintenance include:
A blowout occurs when a truck’s tire suddenly and rapidly deflates. When that happens, the truck becomes much more difficult to control, and can often result in jackknifing. Tire blowouts can be caused by environmental factors, such as excessive heat and potholes, but also by improper maintenance, such as under inflating the tire or putting too much pressure on it by overloading the vehicle.
Vehicle braking systems work by using a set of pads to apply friction to stop the motion of the vehicle’s wheels. These brake pads wear down over time and must be maintained and eventually be replaced in order to remain effective. Failure to properly maintain or replace a truck’s brake pads can result in brake failure, which can then cause the runaway truck to strike anything in its path.
Trucks are made of two parts — the cab, which is where the driver sits, and a trailer, which holds the cargo. These two components are secured together by a coupling device, which consists of a fifth wheel, a kingpin, and a system of cables. If this coupling system is improperly secured, it can cause the trailer of the truck to detach from the cab and strike nearby vehicles.
Improperly Secured Loads
Every truck is designed to carry a certain amount of weight, which is then arranged and secured inside the trailer to minimize shifting during transit. If this cargo is not properly secured, it can shift and cause the truck’s center of gravity to change, causing the truck to overturn or swerve out of control. Improperly loaded cargo can also fall off of the truck and strike vehicles following behind it.
Violations of Inspection Requirements
The trucking industry is regulated by the Department of Transportation, which requires that all vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds undergo an annual inspection to ensure that they are in safe working order. These inspections are extensive and require the inspector to check all aspects of the truck’s physical safety, including its brakes, tires, and coupling devices. If a trucking company fails to submit its vehicles for an annual inspection, or if the inspector is not as thorough as he or she should be, safety hazards may go unnoticed and eventually cause accidents.
Contact the Waldorf Truck Accident Attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles
If you have suffered an injury in a truck accident, regardless of whether it was caused by improper maintenance or human error, you may be able to recover through a personal injury action. For more information, please contact the Waldorf truck accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas E. Pyles by using our online contact form or by calling 301-705-5006. We have office locations in Leonardtown and Laurel for your convenience.