Blurry image of a semi-truck driving on a highway at night

3 Common Problems That Cause Truck Crashes

Semi-trucks are the lifeblood of American shipping. Many of our daily necessities—from the fresh food we eat to electronics, clothing, and others—are transported to our homes via trucks.

While semi-trucks are critical to the supply chain in this country, these massive vehicles pose significant risks to all motorists who share the road with them. This is especially true if truck drivers have to overcome brake problems, shift in cargo, tire blowouts or other maintenance issues. In this blog, we cover three common vehicle issues that can lead to truck crashes.

These Semi-Truck Problems Lead to Accidents

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), 10% of truck crashes are caused by vehicle-related problems, including brake issues, cargo shifting, and tire blowouts.

Brake Problems

The most prevalent issue with semi-trucks that leads to collisions is a problem with the brakes. About 29% of the big rig accidents in which truckers and trucking companies are to blame are the result of problems with the brakes.

Some of the most common reasons for brake failure include:

  • Improper maintenance
  • Misaligned brake linings
  • Sticky calipers
  • Contamination by oil
  • Leaky fluid lines
  • Other mechanical problems

Cargo Shifting

Another common vehicle problem that can occur, leading to a truck crash is cargo shifting. Cargo shifting is the cause of about 4% of truck accidents related to problems with a big rig.

Most of the time, cargo is strategically loaded with care, so it does not shift while the truck is in motion. However, even the most strategically loaded trucks can still experience cargo shifts from time to time.

When a cargo shift occurs, it can rock a loaded truck from side to side, which not only causes issues with the truck’s balance, but it may also cause a truck driver to lose control of the vehicle.

Tire Blowouts

When a truck experiences a tire blowout, it can be a very dangerous situation for all nearby motorists. While it can happen to anyone at any time, improper maintenance or failing to replace old tires can increase the risk of a blowout.

A tire blowout can easily cause a truck to:

  • Swerve into a different lane,
  • Rollover, or
  • Jackknife.

Tire blowouts tend to occur when a tire is worn beyond its limits, breaks, or is otherwise punctured.

The following may be warning signs that a tire blowout can happen sooner rather than later:

  • Cracks or cuts in the tire sidewalls
  • Uneven or excessive tread wear
  • Bulges
  • Excessive vibration

Semi-Trucks Must Be Properly Inspected and Maintained

It is critical to the safety of all motorists that semi-trucks are properly inspected and maintained on a regular basis to avoid vehicle problems that can cause crashes.

The FMCSA rules, semi-trucks must undergo the following maintenance:

  • General - § 396.3(a)
    • All motor carriers must thoroughly inspect, repair, and maintain all of the vehicles under their control.
    • Parts and accessories need to be in a secure and appropriate condition at all times.
    • At least every 90 days, the following must be inspected:
      • Pushout windows
      • Emergency doors
      • Emergency door marking lights
  • Required Records - § 396.3(b)
    • The following records must be maintained for all vehicles that are under a motor carrier’s control for 30 consecutive days or more:
      • The vehicle’s identification, including:
        • Company number
        • Make
        • Serial number
        • Year
        • Tire size
      • Records of the nature and deadlines for various inspections and maintenance operations that will be conducted.
      • Records of all inspections, repairs, and maintenance, providing the date and type for each.
      • Records of the tests carried out on:
        • Pushout windows
        • Emergency doors
        • Emergency door marking lights on buses
  • Roadside Inspection Reports - § 396.9
    • If a trucker receives a roadside inspection report, it must be sent to the motor carrier that employs him or her. The report must then be examined by a motor carrier official.
    • The motor carrier must sign the report within 15 days of inspection to certify that all of the offenses have been fixed, and send it back to the address indicated.
    • A copy of the report must be saved by the carrier for at least one year from the date of the inspection.
  • Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports - § 396.11
    • A daily written post-trip inspection report must be completed by the driver each day.
    • The report must include the vehicle identification as well as any defects or insufficiencies identified by or reported to the trucker, particularly those that could impact the safety of the vehicle's operation or produce a mechanical breakdown.
    • Any defects or insufficiencies must be repaired or certified that immediate repair is not needed.
    • The original copy of the report must be retained by the motor carrier for at least three months.
  • Annual Inspection - § 396.17
    • All commercial vehicles must be regularly inspected at least once each year. The motor carriers are allowed to inspect their vehicles themselves, but the inspection records must be kept by the carrier for no less than 14 months from the date of the report.

If the required maintenance is not conducted on a semi-truck and the vehicle experiences issues as a result, then a truck crash may suddenly occur. In such a circumstance, the victim or the victim’s family may be able to hold the responsible party accountable through a truck accident lawsuit.

If a Vehicle Issue Causes a Crash, You May Be Able to Pursue Damages in a Lawsuit

If you or someone in your family sustained injuries in a truck accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the negligent party to recover damages for your losses.

Any of the following parties may be held liable for your injuries, depending on how the crash occurred:

  • Truck driver
  • Trucking company
  • Cargo loader
  • Owner of the truck
  • Truck and parts manufacturers
  • Truck leasing company
  • Truck brokering company
  • Truck maintenance company

In order to prove that one of the aforementioned parties is responsible for the injury-sustaining accident, you must be able to provide evidence showing that the party acted negligently in some way and that negligence led to your injuries. This is why you need the seasoned experience of a truck accident lawyer to advocate on your behalf and pursue maximum compensation for you and your family.

We’re Here to Help Injured Truck Accident Victims

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident you deserve justice for what happened. Our team has helped many other people in similar situations recover the compensation they deserved, and we are prepared to fight for you too.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to our office right away with any questions you may have. Our attorneys are ready and willing to help your family by handling the aftermath of the accident and the legal proceedings so you can focus on your family and healing.

Contact our office by calling (855) 948-5098 or submitting an online contact form today to schedule your free consultation with one of our skilled semi-truck accident attorneys.

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