You know from driving a car that there are certain mechanical issues that may cause dangerous situations. For example: when your brakes don’t work well or a headlight is out, you're more likely to be involved in an accident. This is why you give maintenance issues prompt attention, fixing them before they lead to disastrous consequences.
Commercial truck drivers are required by law to inspect their trucks daily and make repairs as needed. Unfortunately, some truckers fail to do this and, as a result, there are hundreds of rigs on the road every day with dangerous mechanical problems.
Trip Inspections Are Required by Federal Law
All commercial drivers are required to ensure their vehicles are in good working order before every trip. They must complete a pre-trip inspection and keep this report in the truck.
Areas they should inspect include:
- Engine compartment and cab
- Brake performance
- Tire inflation and condition
- Steering system performance
- Trailer coupling
- Lights and reflectors
Commercial truckers are also required to conduct post-trip inspections to identify any damage that might have occurred during the haul. Not only are drivers required to maintain their vehicles, but also their employers, with an additional stipulation that any mechanical failures are repaired by authorized mechanics before a truck returns to service. Failing to inspect and maintain commercial trucks can lead to liability for both the trucker and the trucking company.
Problems That Arise When Trucks Aren't Maintained
A mechanical problem can pop up with little or no warning, which is why inspections are so important. A driver may not be aware his brakes are failing or the truck's taillights are out, but a post-trip inspection would alert him to these and other dangers.
Problems that could lead to serious wrecks include:
- Defective tires. When tires aren't kept at the recommended pressure—whether they're overinflated or underinflated—they can deteriorate and eventually fail completely. A worn or damaged tire may blow out as a trucker barrels down the highway, resulting in a loss of control of the vehicle. Tread wear, tread and sidewall damage, and air leakage are the major indicators of a tire in danger of failure.
- Brake failure. Catastrophic brake failure, such as sudden air loss, may cause a driver to either not have the ability to stop effectively or lose control of the vehicle entirely. Gradual brake deterioration not discovered and corrected can be even more hazardous, because a trucker has no idea his brakes are compromised until he needs them in an emergency and they fail unexpectedly.
- Light outages. When a truck’s headlights, taillights, or side lights are out or reflectors are dirty, other drivers may not be able to see the entire trailer and could make a lane change into the trailer. Such accidents can be reduced by ensuring the truck’s lighting system and reflectors are operational.
- Trailer coupling failure. A trucker must make sure the trailer coupling equipment is in good order, the landing gear isn't damaged, air lines and electric lines are hooked up, axle loads are balanced, and the coupling is secure before every trip. A trailer coupling failure could result in a loss of the trailer at highway speeds, which would be catastrophic.
While annual comprehensive truck inspections are also required by federal law, it's the daily inspections that are more likely to catch an immediate threat to safety. When a semi crash does occur, it may not be immediately obvious that a mechanical failure led to the crash. As a victim of a truck crash, you may need help proving that the truck wasn't safe and shouldn't have been on the road.
How an Indiana Truck Accident Attorney Can Help
It's vital that a third-party inspection of the truck is conducted immediately after an accident to identify any possible mechanical failures that may have caused or contributed to the crash. When you contact an experienced truck crash attorney soon after your accident, he will see to it that evidence of mechanical failure is preserved. The attorneys at Keller & Keller know how to handle an Indiana truck crash. Call them at 800-253-4437 for help.