Unsafe Truck Brakes – Unfortunately A Common Dangerous Maintenance Violation

truck pressured air for brakes pixlr

We welcome in 2021 with additional warnings on the dangers of unsafe commercial trucks.

There are numerous causes of fatal big rig crashes, many of which focus on unsafe and careless behavior by professional truckers, including:

·         Speeding

·         Driving while fatigued

·         Lane swerving

·         Driving distracted

·         Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

However, another frequent, and unrecognized cause, of catastrophic 18-wheeler accidents is unsafe tractor-trailers with serious, life threatening mechanical defects that make them dangerous to other drivers and passengers on America’s roadways.

In early September 2020 the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) – a nonprofit consortium of law enforcement and commercial transportation safety officials – conducted its annual International Roadcheck event.  The event is three days of random roadside inspections of commercial trucks and their drivers in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

CVSA released the findings of its inspections in December 2020, and the results reinforced similar findings of previous events: there are an alarming number of unfit big rigs on today’s roads.

Certified officials inspected just over 45,000 semis in the United States. The majority of the inspections included 37 steps, so they were very thorough – and revealing.

The most critical violations found by inspectors warranted “out of service” status.  That meant the commercial truck maintenance issues were so serious inspectors ordered the trucks shelved until necessary repairs were made. A total of 10,676 out-of-service violations for unsafe maintenance issues and dangerous mechanical defects were issued on commercial trucks which were traveling on America’s roadways.

Defective Truck Brakes Found to Be the Greatest Danger

The number one maintenance issue that forced trucks off the road in 2020 was the same as in previous CVSA International Roadcheck events.  Defective truck brakes represented 25% of all out-of-service violations issued in the United States over those three days in September.

Unsafe truck brakes pose such a danger that CVSA also conducts annually an inspection focusing solely on truck braking systems.  The 2020 Brake Safety Week, conducted last August, uncovered 4,500 big rigs with brakes so dangerous they were required to be immediately taken out-of-service until appropriate repairs were made.

Other top maintenance issues for commercial trucks found last September were:

·         Worn, defective truck tires – 19.7% of out-of-service violations

·         Defective truck lights – 13.8% of out-of-service violations

·         Unsafe cargo securement – 12.6% of out-of-service violations

Dangerously Tired Commercial Truck Drivers

Commercial truckers as well were included in these U.S. roadside inspections. A total of 2,365 big rig drivers were themselves given “out-of-service” violations and immediately pulled from their driving responsibilities.

Fatigued truckers, as noted earlier, have long been a common cause of fatal commercial trucking accidents.  “Hours of Service” abuses by drivers amount to almost a third of all out-of-service violations given to truckers.

Federal Hours of Service rules dictate how many hours a day and week over-the-road truckers can drive, as well as mandate rest periods. The rules are designed to keep dangerously tired commercial truck drivers off our roadways.

Based on the 999 out-of-service violations given to U.S. truckers for some form of Hours of Service problems, make it clear that truckers in large numbers are dangerously not following the rules.

The onus of safely maintaining trucks and driving responsibly falls on the commercial trucking companies and their drivers.  If they ignore this responsibility, it can result in innocent victims being needlessly injured or killed.

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a crash with an 18-wheeler, you may wish to speak with a personal injury attorney about pursuing any legal rights you might have for just compensation from all those responsible.

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

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Blog January 12, 2021


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