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Responsibility of trucking companies to keep fleet vehicles running properly

| Sep 28, 2014 | Motor Vehicle Accident

The sheer size and weight of a tractor trailer alone is enough to pose a danger to Illinois motorists on the road. However, when essential equipment on a massive vehicle is not working properly, there is an increased chance that the big rig may cause a devastating truck accident. Just as in any other moving vehicle, trucks rely on a host of mechanical processes in order to work. When equipment fails on a 10,000 pound tractor trailer, the results could be catastrophic.

Equipment failure

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 3,802 people were killed in motor vehicle collisions involving tractor trailers nationwide in 2012. Many of the truck accidents that were caused by faulty equipment or vehicle malfunction may have been prevented with vehicle maintenance.

A recent incident involving a mechanical failure in a fire truck in Montana resulted in the deaths of six people, according to KRTV News. Investigators believe that the front drivetrain of a fire truck traveling along the highway suddenly failed, causing the driver to swerve into an oncoming pickup truck. Although the truck attempted to veer out of the way, the two vehicles collided. An investigation into the accident showed that the fire truck’s equipment failed prior to the collision.

An accident in New Jersey occurred when a tractor trailer rear ended a limousine containing famed comedian Tracy Morgan. According to a Business Week report, the cause of the accident involved driver fatigue, as well as a non-functioning automatic brake system that may have helped the truck slow down, preventing the collision. A third-party lawsuit involving the company who was responsible for maintaining the semi-truck has been filed.

Maintaining big rigs

In an attempt to decrease the number of truck accidents caused by faulty equipment and worn out components, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enforces the following inspection policies:

  • Each driver must perform a comprehensive pre-trip inspection of their vehicle to ensure all parts are working properly.
  • Each driver must perform inspections of their vehicle during and after the trip, checking for any abnormalities or signs of disrepair.
  • Each tractor trailer must undergo a major inspection, performed by a certified and qualified inspector, each year according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. This can be a company mechanic, but the designated inspector must meet all DOT requirements.

According to the FMCSA, it is the motor carriers’ responsibility to ensure that all accessories and parts on their tractor trailers are well-maintained and promptly repaired when a malfunction should occur. Companies that fail to do so may be held liable if equipment failure on one of their trucks leads to an accident causing physical injury, property damage or death.