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McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry, PA

Truck driver error and poor maintenance may cause brake failure

Late last summer, a multi-vehicle accident just west of Denver, Colorado, made national headlines. In the lead-up to that accident, a semitruck descended too quickly into the metropolitan area from the Rocky Mountains. Sadly, after the truck’s brakes failed, four people lost their lives in a fiery crash. Others sustained significant injuries.

If you have ever been in front of a truck with malfunctioning brakes, you know how scary it can be. After all, at as much as 80,000 pounds, commercial trucks weigh substantially more than your vehicle. Put simply, if a truck’s brakes fail, you will likely sustain a serious injury. Unfortunately, among other things, both operator error and poor maintenance may cause a semitruck’s brakes to become ineffective.

Operator error 

When commercial truckers drive on steep roadways, they regularly see signs reminding them to remain in their lower gears. Doing so causes the truck to drive slowly, as it uses the vehicle’s engine and transmission to control speed. If a truck driver negligently upshifts, he or she may be moving too quickly to stop the vehicle. Even worse, excess speed may cause the truck’s brakes to fail completely after a driver attempts to apply them.

Poor maintenance 

Following the Colorado truck crash, investigators determined that the trucking company had a history of maintenance issues. Significantly, one of the company’s trucks was missing tubing that is necessary for proper braking. Clearly, every truck driver has an obligation to keep his or her rig in good working condition. If a driver fails to do so, he or she significantly increases the risk of a deadly or life-altering collision.

Still, you should be able to drive without worrying about colliding with an out-of-control commercial vehicle. If you end up with a critical injury, you must investigate whether operator error or poor maintenance may have played a role in the crash.