Unsafe Brakes Found in 12 Percent of Big Rigs on the Road

Driver error is the leading cause of fatal trucking accidents. Careless maintenance of big rigs is another significant contributor, which makes the results of a recent surprise set of truck inspections alarming.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, a group of road safety experts throughout North America, last month released the findings of its unannounced truck brake inspection event held in May. The group checked approximately 6,000 commercial trucks and reported a high rate of failures due to unsafe brakes and other mechanical problems:

  • 12 percent of the commercial trucks had brake problems so severe they received out-of-service violations
  • 14 percent of the rigs inspected had other types of safety violations that placed them out of service

Out-of-service violations require that the semis be pulled off the road until the problems are fixed.

Bad Brakes and Truck Rollover Accidents

About 20 percent of the trailers inspected and required to have anti-lock brake systems had ABS-specific violations. Anti-lock brakes offer better control and help reduce dangerous truck jackknifing and rollover accidents. In 2007, the federal government conducted the most extensive study yet into causes for commercial trucking accidents. Of the nearly 1,000 accidents included in the study, about one-quarter involved the truck rolling over or jackknifing, and unsafe brakes were cited as one cause of the wrecks.

Jackknifed Trucks Account for 5 Percent of Fatal Crashes

The newest reporting of U.S. truck accidents, published in April 2016 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and covering 2014, said that truck rollovers and jackknife accidents accounted for about 5 percent of all fatal truck crashes.

In an effort to help prevent truck rollover accidents, a federal rule passed in 2015 requires almost all new tractors (as in tractor-trailers) beginning in 2017 be built with electronic stability control systems. These systems, similar to those found on passenger vehicles, are projected to prevent almost 1,800 truck wrecks per year. Straight trucks are exempt, although they are involved in a significant portion of all fatal commercial trucking accidents annually.

It’s the responsibility of truck drivers to operate their rigs safely. But trucking companies are also expected to maintain their fleets in a prudent manner. Most catastrophic trucking accidents involving a maintenance defect, like bad brakes, can and should be prevented.

If you had a family member killed or you were seriously hurt in an accident with a large commercial truck, an experienced personal injury attorney can investigate the causes on your behalf.

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