Anyone who has been involved in a trucking accident knows all too well the dangers these large vehicles pose on the roads when they are in the wrong hands. You may not know, however, that many of these accidents are caused by poor truck maintenance. In this blog, we will examine some of the most common types of maintenance issues that can lead to an accident and why it is so important for trucking companies to maintain their fleets properly.
Maintenance Problems in the Trucking Industry
Trucking accidents can have devastating consequences. Some of the most common maintenance issues that can lead to an accident include:
- Faulty Brakes - According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)'s Large Truck Crash Causation Study, approximately 29 percent of trucking accidents are due to defective or faulty brakes.
- Bad Tires - 8,000 trucking accidents out of 141,000 in the above study can be attributed to problems with the vehicle's tires (e.g., blowouts).
- Defective Signals - It is not uncommon for large trucks to have inadequate brake lights, turn signals or reflectors, despite having specific requirements outlined by the FMCSA.
- Unsecured Cargo - In the FMCSA's report, around 4 percent of trucking accidents were caused by a shift in the cargo the vehicle was carrying.
The federal government has put in place rules that trucking companies must follow to address the problem of inadequate truck maintenance. These rules are found in Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 396. They cover inspection, repair, and replacement requirements for a variety of truck components, including:
- Coupling devices
- Lighting and signals
- Air line connections, couples, hoses, etc.
Semi-truck drivers are required by law to inspect their trucks for problems before they get on the road, and trucking companies are required to do in-depth inspections and maintenance on a regular basis. If the driver or the company find any defects or deficiencies, the company must make the necessary repairs before the truck can be used again. The rules require these companies to keep their drivers' inspection reports for at least three months.
Necessary Repairs Often Go Overlooked
Trucking companies are under constant pressure to deliver their goods on time and on budget. As a result, they often overlook needed repairs in order to keep their vehicles on the road. This practice can put drivers and the public at risk. When trucking companies fail to properly maintain their vehicles, it can lead to breakdowns, accidents, and even fatalities. In some cases, trucking companies have been known to falsify records in order to cover up the need for repairs. This puts everyone on the road at risk by allowing unsafe trucks to stay on the road.
How Can an Attorney Help Prove Lack of Maintenance?
If you have been injured in a trucking accident, you may be able to hold the trucking company liable if it can be proven that the company did not properly maintain the vehicle. An experienced attorney can investigate the accident, gather evidence to support your claim, and present the evidence to a jury in a compelling way.
For example, an attorney can gather evidence relating to maintenance reports. This evidence can include records of inspections and repairs, as well as receipts for parts and labor. The attorney can also interview witnesses who can testify about the trucking company's maintenance practices. By gathering this evidence, the attorney can build a strong case that the trucking company was negligent in its maintenance of the trucks, which led to the accident.
If you were involved in a trucking accident in New Mexico, call McGinn, Montoya, Love & Curry, P.A. today at (505) 405-4441 to schedule a free initial consultation.