As anyone who’s driven across the United States could tell you, poor vehicle maintenance could completely stop a productive trip and cause a dangerous situation on the road. In the case of semi trucks, the risk of injury from machine failure and dangerous road conditions increases exponentially.
What Could Go Wrong?
We have to trust that drivers of large semi trucks on America’s roadways are professionals who understand that keeping their rigs in top condition is vital for a successful delivery as well as their own safety and the safety of other drivers on the road. Unfortunately, some trucking companies do not put safety first. They do not hire responsible truckers and do not have their vehicles routinely inspected. While an 18-wheeler can malfunction even if it is properly maintained, a breakdown is that much more likely if the trucking company fails to follow a proper maintenance regimen.
Common tractor trailer malfunctions that can result in collisions include the following:
- Tire Blowout
Semi trucks have to travel hundreds and often thousands of miles every week to meet deadlines. This causes extreme wear and tear on tires. If the truck’s tires are not regularly inspected it is more likely that a blowout will occur while they are on the road. This issue is one of the most serious. The NHTSA reported that in 2003 over 400 fatalities were a result of tire blowout. Truckers can reduce the likelihood of a blowout by checking tire tread and pressure before embarking on each delivery.
- Faulty Door Latches
The goods that semi trucks transport can fall out of a truck during operation due to an unlatched trailer door or a latch that breaks during operation because it was already loose. Such an incident can cause devastating injuries to the drivers and passengers following behind the truck – particularly when the incident occurs on a highway and the vehicles are moving at a high speed. Truckers can minimize the risk of this happening by inspecting the latch to ensure it is not loose or about to break.
- Worn Brakes
Like tires, brakes will wear down over time. When that happens, semis that are carrying tons of cargo lose the ability to stop or slow down in time to avoid collisions. Because of the immense size and weight of semis, inertia makes it very difficult to stop without an effective braking system. The brake systems of semi trucks are complicated, which makes it all the more important that trucking companies have professional and experienced mechanics to regularly inspect and maintain them.
- Broken Lights
Having lights that don’t work on a semi truck is a major safety risk. Truckers should have light on every side of their vehicle and trailer to indicate to other motor vehicles when they brake or turn and also provide visibility in the dark. Having a broken light is easy to overlook during an inspection. Unfortunately, this easy-to-fix problem is often overlooked during safety inspection and can cause collisions between semi trucks and other drivers.
Your Options After a Crash
If you have been injured or have property that has been damaged in a semi truck crash, it would be wise to consult with a personal injury lawyer with experience in truck accident cases. Your lawyer will offer you a free claim evaluation and, if he or she takes your case, will advise you on the best course of action to pursue your claim.