Trucks with Bad Brakes Pose Dangers to Others

It’s estimated that a fully loaded tractor-trailer weighing 80,000 pounds rumbling down the highway at 65 mph requires the length of almost two football fields to stop. And that’s with good brakes. Imagine the increased stopping distance and dangers of a big rig with defective brakes. Out-of-control tractor-trailers weighing up to 40 tons cause fatal truck accidents in Missouri and other U.S. states each year.

That’s why the results of a recent nationwide inspection program, which found a large number of trucks with bad brakes, are so troubling.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, a not-for-profit group of motor carrier safety professionals throughout North America, recently announced the findings of a surprise, random truck brake roadside check event it conducted in the United States and Canada. Inspectors stopped over 6,300 commercial trucks in May 2015. Of those, 14.2 percent had serious enough brake violations to put the trucks out of service until they were repaired.

So more than one out of every 10 big rigs were found to have seriously defective brakes.

Bad Truck Brakes a Leading Safety Violation

The same organization annually conducts a more comprehensive safety check of over-the-road trucks. The CVSA reports that in 2014, brake-related problems represented the largest percentage of out-of-service truck safety violations it found, at 46.2 percent. (The results of the 2015 event, held earlier this year, have not yet been released.)

Why are there so many trucks on the road with dangerous brakes? It’s most likely the fault of negligent truck drivers and truck companies that both focus on the bottom line rather than safety.

Truckers Who are More Concerned with Profit than Safety

A truck in the shop isn’t making money for the truck driver or the employer. So there’s a financial motivation to ignore brake problems and other dangerous truck maintenance issues.

Also, poorly trained drivers may not know or understand the warning signs of faulty brakes on their rigs.

Over-the-road tractor trailers use air brake systems. But catastrophic runaway trucking accidents normally aren’t caused by a failure in the air brake system, such as a leak. More often, they are a result of poorly adjusted truck brakes.

Truck brake systems use either manual adjusters or automatic adjusters, which are more reliable. Manual adjusters have been outlawed on new trucks since 1994 and on new trailers since 1995. So older tractor-trailers are more susceptible to dangerous brakes and require frequent monitoring.

But unscrupulous truck companies and truckers may not maintain their rigs – old and new – as responsibly as they should, which can hurt or kill innocent persons. If you have been severely injured or lost a family member in a crash involving a tractor-trailer, consult with an attorney who handles trucking accident cases about holding those responsible accountable for the tragic suffering and losses they’ve caused.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.