It’s almost beyond belief—the idea a massive machine the size of 40 elephants, moving at interstate speeds, can’t stop itself. But it’s a real problem, often worsened by the twin evils of speeding and tailgating.
A joint government-sponsored study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed just how big that problem is. The study looked at a representative sample of nearly one thousand tractor-trailer crashes and concluded deficient or failed brakes contributed to an estimated 29% of crashes.
The sad truth is, a variety of factors can cause semi-truck brakes to fail or go bad, causing tragic wrecks. But there are two issues we look for first:
- Inadequate inspections. I’ve written before on federal law requiring pre-trip inspections as well as the inspection processes that have been put in place to promote highway safety. In the federal regulation containing the items to be inspected, the first one listed is the brakes. Careless or nonexistent inspections can overlook faulty brakes. Both the trucker and the trucking company can be held legally accountable for these poor inspections. And proving a safety regulation violation caused the crash enhances a victim's ability to obtain punitive damages.
- Poor maintenance. Finding a brake problem is just half the battle. Turning a brake problem over to a poorly trained or incompetent mechanic won’t solve the problem. Federal law also tries to protect us from this by providing minimum qualifications for big rig brake mechanics. These qualifications include successful completion of an approved apprenticeship or training program.
If you’re involved in a tractor-trailer accident, you can rest assured the trucker won’t volunteer the cause of the crash—just like his insurance company won’t volunteer to pay your medical bills. Get a trained professional who wants to help you. Fill out our Get Help now form, or call toll free 888-230-1841 to start getting some answers and building your case.