Poorly Maintained Commercial Trucks and Fatal Crashes

The cost for commercial truck repairs is on the rise, which may be bad news for drivers who share the road with big rigs.

There are several causes for catastrophic truck crashes.  The most common, according to the federal government’s “Large Truck Causation Study,” is driver error.  Trucker mistakes that lead to fatal truck accidents include speeding, distracted driving, and fatigue caused by driving beyond the legal limits set by federal law.

Another common cause for commercial truck accidents is poorly maintained rigs.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a not-for-profit organization whose goal is to reduce fatal motor vehicle accidents in the United States, previously found that 75 percent of tractor-trailers in crashes had a mechanical defect of some kind.

The IIHS determined that commercial trucks found with mechanical out-of-service violations – problems so serious they should not have been on the road in the first place – were four times more likely to crash.

Commercial Trucks that Cause Multi-Vehicle Crashes

Catastrophic truck crashes typically involve fatalities and multiple vehicles.  The IIHS also concluded that semi-trucks with out-of-service maintenance violations were 10 times more likely to be the striking vehicle in a multi-vehicle crash than properly maintained commercial trucks.

All this seemingly would make truck maintenance a priority for trucking companies.  But this isn’t always the case, especially when it could hurt the bottom-line.

New research from the trucking industry (“The Truckload Vertical Benchmarking Study”) shows the cost of truck repairs increasing, which could further push down necessary repairs and scheduled maintenance in a trucking company’s list of business priorities.

That same report discovered that today’s commercial trucks typically go 10,000 miles before breaking down, a surprisingly small number.

This is not lost on the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, a group of truck safety experts and law enforcement officials.  It annually holds a roadside truck inspection event throughout the United States and Canada.  This year’s event will be held June 4 through June 6.

Big Rigs with Bad Steering and Suspension Systems

Certified inspectors will be pulling over large trucks for inspections that examine the fitness of truck drivers and the mechanical fitness of their heavy rigs.  Serious violations found will force the trucks off the road until repairs are made.

The CVSA announced that inspectors in this year’s International Roadcheck will, for the first time, focus heavily on a truck’s steering and suspension system. Organizers of the event said that problems with steering and suspension can lead to truck tire blow-outs and dangerous truck crashes.  Defective truck steering and suspension can also lead to loss of control when a truck has to brake.

Unsafe truck brakes are a common mechanical defect uncovered in previous CVSA truck inspections. Last fall, CVSA inspectors found 14 percent of commercial trucks with such serious brake problems they were given out-of-service violations.

Proper truck maintenance should be a priority for trucking companies and their drivers. When they ignore this responsibility, unfortunately others may pay a big price.

If you were seriously hurt or lost a family member in a crash caused by a commercial truck, speak to a truck accident lawyer about representing your legal rights to just compensation from those responsible.

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

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Blog May 17, 2019