The outcome raises significant concerns about the trucking industry.
The findings of an unannounced "brake safety day" have been revealed, and they are alarming.
Without a doubt, brakes are among the most crucial safety components in any vehicle. The ability to slow down or stop to avoid collisions can be the difference between life and death, especially when cruising at high speeds on highways. However, the importance of properly functioning brakes becomes even more critical for bigger vehicles such as semi-trucks, tractor-trailers, and other large commercial trucks. When the brakes on 18-wheelers are defective or poorly maintained, the result is often a devastating truck accident.
In April, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), an organization focused on trucking industry safety, conducted inspections on approximately 7,000 commercial vehicles across North America. Remarkably, they identified brake-related critical issues in roughly one out of every nine vehicles inspected, resulting in a staggering total of 773 vehicles being temporarily taken off the road until necessary repairs were carried out.
Considering the sheer number of tractor-trailers we encounter daily in Jonesboro and on busy roadways such as I-555 and Highway 49, the fact that nearly one-ninth of them could potentially have critical brake problems is deeply concerning. These findings emphasize the urgent need for the trucking industry to prioritize safety, with a particular emphasis on brake safety.
What brake issues were identified?
The CVSA inspectors identified various types of brake safety issues, which were classified into several categories. The three most prominent categories were:
- 20% Brakes Violations: These violations indicated that a minimum of 20% of the brakes on a particular vehicle were defective. Examples of such defects included missing brakes, audible air leaks, brakes out of adjustment, and faulty brake pads or linings.
- Other Brakes Violations: This category covered a wide range of issues, including worn brake lines, broken brake drums, inoperative tractor protection systems, malfunctioning low air warning devices, air leaks, hydraulic fluid leaks, and more.
- Steering Brake Violations: This category included violations related to steering brake axles, such as inoperative brakes, mismatched brake chambers, mismatched slack adjuster lengths, and defective linings.
How do brake problems cause truck accidents?
While driver error remains the primary cause of truck accidents, mechanical issues also play a significant role, with faulty or defective brakes being among the most dangerous. Here are some ways in which brake problems can contribute to truck accidents:
- Rear-end crashes: Due to their weight of up to 80,000 pounds, semi-trucks have a significantly longer stopping distance compared to smaller passenger vehicles such as cars, pickup trucks, SUVs, or motorcycles. Defective brakes further exacerbate this issue, meaning truckers may be unable to stop in time to avoid rear-ending a smaller vehicle.
- Jackknifing: Jackknife accidents occur when the cab stops abruptly, causing the trailer to swing around and fold against the cab, resembling a jackknife. Defective brakes on the trailer increase the likelihood of jackknifing incidents.
- Rollovers: Commercial trucks are equipped with two brakes on each axle, offering multiple points where brake problems can arise. If these issues are concentrated on one side of the truck, the brakes on that side may engage slower than the other, compromising stability and potentially leading to a rollover.
- Runaways: A runaway truck accident occurs when a truck loses control due to brake failure or malfunction, causing it to gain excessive speed downhill or on steep gradients. Without proper braking power, the truck becomes difficult to slow down or stop, posing a severe threat to other vehicles, pedestrians, and property along its path.
Faulty brakes pose a danger in any scenario, but they become particularly deadly when coupled with inexperienced truckers. Inexperienced or inadequately trained semi-truck drivers may unnecessarily "ride the brakes," causing excessive wear and tear that can render the brakes ineffective when truly needed. Moreover, effectively applying brakes in emergency situations and executing maneuvers at appropriate speeds and following distances to avoid collisions requires skill and experience.
When to talk to a truck accident lawyer
If you were injured or a loved one died in a truck accident involving faulty brakes or some other form of negligence, you need to consult an experienced truck accident attorney as soon as possible to review your potential legal options. Remember, after a serious accident, the trucking company will have teams of lawyers working around the clock to protect its interests. You need a law firm on your side that will do the same and level the playing field.
At McDaniel Law Firm, PLC, we know how to investigate truck accidents, find the facts that matter, and ensure those responsible (e.g., the truck driver, trucking company, manufacturer, or another party) are held accountable.
Let us fight for your rights and interests. Take the first step toward justice by scheduling a free consultation with an experienced Arkansas truck accident attorney at our law firm.